Matthew Sullivan – Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore – Thoughts

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‘Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore’ by Matthew Sullivan is a captivating and smart novel.
Lydia, the protagonist, works as a bookseller at the Bright Ideas bookstore, which is not only her place of work but also her refuge. This is a place where many different kinds of people find comfort in the soothing presence of books. Among them, Joey. At a certain point, though, the books and Lydia’s friendship are not enough anymore. Joey kills himself, inside the bookstore. Lydia finds his body, along with something else. A photo of Lydia herself, blowing the candles of her birthday cake when she turned ten years old. How is it possible that Joey had it? Who gave it to him? And why he killed himself? How is Lydia connected to Joey? From that photo, and from the few possessions the young man has left to Lydia, our protagonist will unravel a mystery that involves her directly, and very personally. There’s something in Lydia’s past she doesn’t want to recall anymore, but she will have to.
I read this books in a few days, and I couldn’t really put it down. The characters are so very well written, all of them. As a reader, you become part of Lydia’s investigation in a way I have never experienced in any mystery book I have ever read before.
The plus side of this book, coming from my first PageHabit subscription, is that it contained notes from the author explaining certain choices and details of the story.

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Tim Parks – Calm – Thoughts

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I thoroughly enjoyed “Calm”, a book part of the Vintage Minis collection with selections from Tim Park’s “Teach Us to Sit Still”.
Park, in these selections, explains how he’s an absolute skeptic about spirituality. Until he finds himself immersed in the alien world of a Buddhist meditation retreat and, slowly, he really finds that inner peace.
How to find that peace? How to stay calm, how to not be submerged by problems, by pain?
“Calm” is a very fast read and a very enjoyable one. I myself am very skeptic about spirituality. I’ve tried once, one session of yoga and I still can’t understand how you’re supposed to free your mind from the everyday’s problems and stress. All I could think of was exactly what I was supposed to avoid. Free your mind! I know one session is not enough, but I started reading this book fully sharing Park’s point of view: skepticism.
I loved reading his journey towards finding what he was (probably not) looking for. His writing is captivating, funny, and honest.

David Baldacci – Split Second – Thoughts

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I discovered David Baldacci’s series dedicated to King & Maxwell watching the tv series inspired by the books.
Split Second is the first of six books that focus on former Secret Service agent Sean King, and Michelle Maxwell, a Secret Service agent as well who is under investigation after she fails to protect a politician who is a candidate for the presidency.
The two team up to solve what initially seem two separate cases, only to discover there might be more lying under the surface.
The book is a fast read, the story is captivating even if it seems a little far fetched towards the end.
The two characters are very well built, and they go along perfectly together; they are definitely the most interesting and fun part of the story.
Split Second is an enjoyable read with two promising characters who seem equipped to solve any kind of mystery.

Orhan Pamuk – My Name is Red – Thoughts

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My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk is one of the most strange yet interesting books I’ve ever read. I would describe it as sumptuous. It wasn’t an easy read, it requires a lot of attention and focus. I admit sometimes I got lost into it.
The story centers around the murder of a miniaturist, who was working along with others on a book celebrating the life of the Sultan in Istanbul. Who is the murderer? Someone who didn’t want the book to be completed? Another miniaturist?
The aspect I’ve found the most interesting is the way this story is told. Every chapter narrates the events from the point of view of different characters, with the first chapter introducing us the victim. The corpse talks to us. And as the story unfolds, we can read a chapter in which a drawing talks to us, even a color.
As I said, it’s a difficult read, but definitely a satisfying one.

Unboxing PageHabit – #mypagehabit

IMG_20170710_142018 (1)Finally, after a month from my order, my first PageHabit box arrived safely home!
Here I am unboxing it for the first time!

The lovely box – mystery – contains the debut novel “Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore” by Matthew J. Sullivan:
“When a bookshop patron commits suicide, it’s his favorite store clerk who must unravel the puzzle he left behind.”
I’m very excited to start reading this one, it definitely looks promising. Moreover, inside the book, you will find notes from the author regarding details about the book.

Inside the box, along with the book, a letter by the author, some books-related goods such as a bookmark, a case (inside which my kindle fits just perfectly!), a lovely pin, and a card explaining how PageHabit, thanks to our purchases, can make donations to support children’s literacy.
Following, two more photos from the unboxing:

If you want to purchase a PageHabit box, just head over to: pagehabit.com and select your favorite box among mystery, literary fiction, fantasy, historical fiction and much more.

Lawrence Block – Ombre. Racconti ispirati ai dipinti di Edward Hopper – Riflessioni

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“Ombre” è una raccolta di racconti ispirati ad alcuni tra i numerosi dipinti di Edward Hopper.
I dipinti di Hopper sono particolarmente affascinanti, proprio perché soffermandosi ad osservarli si possono immaginare tante storie diverse. Ho avuto la fortuna di poter visitare una mostra a lui dedicata, ed é incredibile quanto ci si senta attratti dalle sue tele, quanto sia impossibile non immaginare che storia possa nascondersi all’interno delle sue opere.
Questa raccolta cerca proprio questo. Fornire una trama, un tessuto ai colori e ai silenzi delle opere di Hopper.
I miei racconti preferiti sono “La stanza sul mare” di Nicholas Christopher, “Nighthawks” di Michael Connelly, “La sala della musica” di Stephen King, e “Autunno, tavola calda” di Lawrence Block (che è anche il curatore di questa raccolta). Proprio quest’ultimo racconto è basato sul mio dipinto preferito di Hopper, “Automat”, ed è una storia che cattura, sembra essere l’unica possibile per descrivere ciò che accade nel dipinto. Alcune storie mi sono piaciute meno, ma in fin dei conti si tratta di gusti, e di diverse interpretazioni.
Trovo meraviglioso che tanti autori diversi si siano cimentati nel creare una storia attorno ad una serie di dipinti ricchi di profondità, di silenzi, di enigmi.
Block ci racconta nell’introduzione che per uno dei dipinti un autore non è riuscito a consegnare in tempo il proprio racconto. Ci invita quindi a finire noi la raccolta, creando una storia per il dipinto “Cape Cod Morning”. Io ci ho provato, scrivendo un breve racconto in inglese, qui

Cape Cod Morning – A Story

In the book “In Sunlight or In Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper”, by Lawrence Block, he writes in the Introduction that there was supposed to be an additional story along with the ones published, but the Author couldn’t deliver his story on time, “and so, Gentle Reader, we’ve provided you with an eighteenth painting, and isn’t it a compelling one? Have a look at it, take it in. There’s a story in it, don’t you think? A story just waiting to be told . . . Feel free to tell it.” 

This is the painting, “Cape Cod Morning”, by Edward Hopper:

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And this is my story, “Cape Cod Morning – A Story”

“Do you think it might rain today?”, asked Alice looking outside the window. It seemed a wishful thinking. The sun was high and strong in the sky, making the grass that grew all around the house seem even more golden than it already appeared.
“Rain? Does it look like a rainy day to you?”, May answered, from the other side of the room. “Why, anyway? Do you want a storm so you won’t have to go out with me?”
“It’s not you that I don’t want to go out with”, replied Alice, still looking outside, as if searching for something, waiting for something.
She loved that part of the house, that window. She would sit there for hours, reading a book, or just staring outside at the infinite sea of golden grass, or at the nearby wood’s confines. She always found that wood fascinating. So close, yet so far away. You couldn’t see past the first line of trees, and beyond that, it was like the color black had absorbed everything.
“Hello? Are you still here?”, May asked. Once again, Alice went somewhere else.
“I’d rather stay here, just you and I, you know”, Alice’s tone was soft, almost a whisper.
“Come on, you need to see the outside world from time to time. You need to meet people. You know I love staying here with you, but how can a day out hurt?”. May smiled and took Alice’s hand, “and besides, at the end, we always come back here, just you and I.

Alice smiled. She wished it could always be just her and May. And the house. Their house. Protected by the wood and the golden sea.
“Just a few hours, do it for me?”. How could she say no to her most important person, to her world, her salvation? May was everything she had hoped for in life.
Sometimes, while sitting in front of her favorite window, Alice would think about how her life changed since she met May, and since they moved in the old house.
Before that, it was as if her life had been on hold, waiting to take a path, any path. She was stalling, she wasn’t living. She felt alone, she felt like she couldn’t tell what was in her heart, to anybody. Until she met May. In a bookstore, of all places. Alice’s favorite. May worked there since a few days when she helped Alice find a book. And as she would find out later, much, much more than a book. She helped her find herself again. From that day, their lives changed. It became just one life, their life.
Alice was jealous of every single second she could spend with May.
She was like their white house: strong, solid. She was everything Alice wasn’t; she felt she was more like that wood right beside their house. You never knew where her thoughts could end, you couldn’t see past her surface. She was inaccessible to everyone. Everyone but May.

Alice kept May’s hand in her hand and finally gave up: “Fine, you win… but you pay!”. May kissed her temple.
Alice gave one more look outside the window before following her out of the room. She’d be back here tonight, on her cozy sofa, watching the sun going to sleep with May at her side, a book in her hands, reading for her until they would both be too tired to keep their eyes open.

And the wood and the golden sea would always be there to guard them.