Thursday, 23 November 2017

Book Review: Where you once belonged - K. Haruf


"'I did think you knew better than to come back here. What in hell was you thinking of?'"

Back in Holt for the last time! My heart already cries in thinking that I have no books left to read written by Kent Haruf, in my view one of the best contemporary American authors.
And this novel did not disappoint me, it is simple and engrossing, sad and heartbreaking.
Holt and its inhabitants are back again, with that "little town where everybody knows everybody else" style and that laid-back and tranquil way of living. Holt's characters can be unified and very supportive to one another but also unforgiving and vindictive if you go against them. And this is what happens to Jack Burdette, who steals from Holt and disappears, leaving behind a family to pay for his actions.
The story is told by the local newspaper editor, Pat, who has known Jack all his life and who himself has a lot of sadness in his life and ends up getting more involved in Jack Burdette's life than he'd like to.
Tragedy, solitude, but also love are the topics of this short novel that touches your heart with its sweet, slow, decadent pace.
I wish Kent Haruf wrote a lot more books as I will terribly miss reading him!

Overall rating: 9      Plot: 9     Writing style: 10      Cover:  8


Title: Where you once belonged
Author: Kent Haruf
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 192
Publication year: 1990

Plot:

Set in a fictional Colorado town, Kent Haruf's Where You Once Belonged brings to life small town America and the characters that keep the community together.Heavy-built Jack Burdette is quite literally too big for his boots – and too big, certainly, for the small-town attitudes of Holt, Colorado. But when he fails to make the grade as a college footballer, and takes a job with the local farmers’ cooperative, it seems he has finally settled into the rhythm and routine of everyday life. Outward appearances can be deceptive, however, as Jack proves: returning from a weekend conference with a new wife in tow, then leaving her behind and skipping town with a bundle of other folks’ money.Nearly a decade later, no one has forgiven or forgotten, and when Jack reappears, resentment runs high. Once again though, it is Jack whose presence – even more than his eight-year absence – proves the most devastating.
The Author:
Kent Haruf is the author of six novels (and, with the photographer Peter Brown, West of Last Chance). His honours include a Whiting Foundation Writers' Award, the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, the Wallace Stegner Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation; he was also a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The New Yorker Book Award. Benediction was shortlisted for the Folio Prize. He died in November 2014, at the age of seventy-one.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Book Review: Evil games - A. Marsons


Second novel of the serie with DI Kim Stone.
Loved it! Such a great crime novel, with a main policewoman who is very intriguing in her complicated life, a serie of horrible crimes and a psycho at the back of it all.
It is really interesting to read about the manipulations that Doctor Thorne manage to achieve in this book, how her mind works and her personality is so far from anything I have never known it is just fascinating to read.
I liked the first novel of the serie, loved this second one, so I will for sure read all the other books too!
In summary, a fast pace, gripping, high tension and high adrenaline crime novel which will glue you to its pages till the end. Highly recommend it!

Books in the serie with DI Kim Stone:
Silent scream
Evil games
Lost girls
Play dead
Blood lines
Dead souls

Overall rating: 8      Plot: 8     Writing style: 8      Cover:  6



Title: Evil games
Author: Angela Marsons
Publisher: Zaffre
Pages: 448
Publication year: 2017

Plot:
When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.
With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.
Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time - it's personal. 

The Author:
From the author's webpage directly
I discovered my love of writing at Primary School when a short piece on the rocks and the sea gained me the only merit point I ever got. I wrote the stories that burned inside and then stored them safely in a desk drawer.
After much urging from my partner I began to enter short story competitions in Writer’s News resulting in a win and three short listed entries. I self-published two of my earlier works before concentrating on my true passion – Crime.
After many, many submissions I signed an 8 book deal with Bookouture as their first crime author.
I live in the Black Country with my partner, our bouncy Labrador and potty-mouthed parrot.  My books SILENT SCREAM, EVIL GAMES, LOST GIRLS AND PLAY DEAD are all available from Amazon, Kobo and iBooks.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Book Review: Arabesque - A. Gazzola




“Sono un tipo che si innamora delle parole e, in particolare, di quelle parole speciali che ti vengono dette quando meno te l’aspetti, quelle che aprono un varco su una delle tante vite parallele che non viviamo.” 

Alice is back e come ci e' mancata! Seguo Alessia Gazzola dagl inizi, quando ho vinto il primo  romanzo della serie - L'allieva - tramite un concorso su facebook.
E tutti i suoi romanzi mi hanno sempre lasciato un sorriso sulle labbra, Alice e' un personaggio che non puo' non piacere ed intenerire, e' dolce e maldestra ed ingenua ed ha quella simpatia innata che piace a tutti. E romanzo dopo romanzo, Alice mi piace sempre di piu', i suoi lati piu' "acerbi", quelli che all'inizio mi facevano un po' mandare in bestia e volerla scuotere, ora sono maturati e, benche' mantenga la personalita' innocente e "tra le nuvole" che la caratterizza, ora e' anche un po' piu' saggia e pensierosa.
Il penultimo libro, Un po' di follia a primavera, era forse quello che mi era piaciuto di piu' della serie, proprio perche' era la fine di un'era per Alice, la fine della specializzazione e la fine di un amore grande.
Arabesque mi e' piaciuto tanto quanto Un po' di follia, Alice e' ora una "vera" dottoressa specializzata in medicina legale, alle prese con la ricerca di un lavoro e alle prese con i soliti sentimenti contrastanti per il mitico CC,  che personalmente amo per il sarcasmo e le battutine acide.
In questo ultimo romanzo Alice vive con il fratello Marco, e' alle prese con il primo caso in cui e' interamente responsabile, e' piu' decisa nelle sue scelte personali e, nonostante i tira e molla continuino, ora sa dire di no e sa anche manifestare i suoi sentimenti in maniera piu' diretta.
Un'Alice quasi trentenne, ancora acerba ma anche molto piu' "vissuta", un'Alice che dimostra di saper persistere in cio' che vuole ottenere, che e' seria per quanto riguarda il suo lavoro e anche la vita privata. Un'Alice che riesce anche a d affrontare "a blast from the past" in maniera adulta.
Il giallo in questo romanzo e' anche molto interessante, complicato e con tanti possibili sospetti, alla Christie per intenderci, e il colpevole non e' affatto scontato. Il mondo della danza affascina sempre, cosi' lontano e misterioso per chi non ne e' parte.
Senza fare spoiler, il finale e' molto aperto e sembra che per Alice sia quasi impossibile trovare finalmente pace!
La penna di Alessia Gazzola e', come sempre, semplice e ricercata allo stesso tempo, si legge con facilita' eppure si capisce che le parole sono scelte una ad una, con un'accuratezza analitica.. E' una scrittura leggiadra e al tempo stesso sagace, intelligente ed articolata.
In sintesi, un altro piacevolissimo romanzo che si legge d'un soffio, che mi ha fatto trascorrere un paio di serate col sorriso sulle labbra e che non deludera' i fan di Alice. L'unico rimpianto, dal mio punto di vista, e' il ruolo, piu'  marginale in questo libro, della nonna, che nei precedenti mi ha fatto morire dal ridere. Ed ora aspettiamo con ansia il prossimo!

"Non l'ho mai richiamato perche' mi sono imposta la solitudine per imparare a riconoscere i miei desideri reali e discriminarli dagli impulsi che tante volte mi hanno mal consigliata."



Overall rating: 7,5      Plot: 7,5     Writing style: 8     Cover: 

Title: Arabesque
Author: Alessia Gazzola
Publisher: Longanesi
Pages: 300
Publication year: 2017

Plot:
Tutto è cambiato, per Alice Allevi: è un mondo nuovo quello che la attende fuori dall’Istituto di Medicina Legale in cui ha trascorso anni complicati ma, a loro modo, felici. Alice infatti non è più una specializzanda, ma è a pieno titolo una Specialista in Medicina Legale. E la luminosa (forse) e accidentata (quasi sicuramente) avventura della libera professione la attende. Ma la libertà tanto desiderata ha un sapore dolce amaro: di nuovo single dopo una lunga storia d’amore, Alice teme di perdere i suoi punti di riferimento. Tutti tranne uno: l’affascinante e intrattabile Claudio Conforti, detto CC, medico legale di comprovata professionalità e rinomata spietatezza. Quando le capita il suo primo incarico di consulenza per un magistrato, Alice si rimbocca le maniche e sfodera il meglio di sé. Al centro del caso c’è una donna di 45 anni, un tempo étoile della Scala e oggi proprietaria di una scuola di danza. In apparenza è deceduta per cause naturali. Eppure, Alice ha i suoi sospetti e per quanto vorrebbe che le cose, per una volta almeno, fossero semplici, la realtà è sempre pronta a disattenderla. Perché, grazie alla sua sensibilità e al suo intuito, Alice inizia a scoprire inquietanti 
segreti nel passato della donna, legati all’universo – tanto affascinante quanto spietato e competitivo – del balletto classico…

The Author:
Alessia Gazzola medico chirurgo specialista in medicina legale, e' nata nel 1982 a Messina. Ha unito narrativa romantica e giallo nella sua serie di romanzi-bestseller con protagonista Alice Allevi. Ha pubblicato per Longanesi L’AllievaUna lunga estate crudele, il prequel Sindrome da cuore in sospesoLe ossa della principessaUn po’ di follia in primaveraArabesque. Oltre alla serie, ha pubblicato un altro romanzo, Non è la fine del mondo (Feltrinelli).
La prima serie con Alice Allevi e' stata trasmessa su Rainuno quest'anno e la seconda seria e' prevista per il 2018.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Book review: Il negozio di sari - R. Bajwa


Non ce l'ho fatta, circa a meta' libro ho abbandonato. Benche' i libri di letteratura indiana normalmente mi piacciano molto poiche' mi piace leggere di un mondo e di una cultura cosi' diversi dai miei, questo libro non mi ha lasciata granche', molto lento.

Overall rating: Abbandonato      Plot: 5     Writing style: 5     Cover:  6,5



Title: Il negozio di sari
Author: Rupa Banjwa
Publisher: Feltrinelli
Pages: 238
Publication year: 2004

Plot:
Fino a ventisei anni Ramchand ha condotto una vita molto "piccola", ristretta. Rimasto orfano da bambino di entrambi i genitori viene affidato a degli zii che, oltre a impossessarsi della modesta eredità, si occupano distrattamente di lui. Quando compie quindici anni, lo affidano al proprietario di un grande negozio di sari. Trascorre dieci anni lavorando. Un giorno lo mandano a casa di una delle famiglie più ricche della città per mostrare i sari più preziosi. Il giorno successivo, gli affidano il compito di cercare un impiegato assente. Così viene a contatto con la vita dei quartieri più poveri della città e con la moglie del collega, preda dell'alcol. Queste due piccole, ma improvvise circostanze lo porteranno a interessarsi del mondo che lo circonda...

The Author:
Nata nel 1976 in India, Rupa Bajwa vive ad Amritsar, uno dei più importanti luoghi di culto per la popolazione sikh. Oltre a Il negozio di sari, l'autrice ha pubblicato nel 2012 Tell me a story e sta lavorando al suo terzo romanzo. 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Book Review: Le tre del mattino - G. Carofiglio


“Rimanemmo in silenzio. Ci sono momenti che si imprimono nella memoria in modo indelebile, perché accade qualcosa che cambia come vedi il mondo. In un momento, appunto. L’anedotto del suicidio mi fece uscire dal cunicolo adolescenziale in cui avevo vissuto fino ad allora. Il cunicolo in cui pensi che le tue esperienze siano uniche, ineffabili e tragiche, e soprattutto incomprensibili agli altri.”

Un libro bellissimo, che ho letto in una serata, un libro commovente, profondo, che ho sentito "mio" dall'inizio alla fine. 
Ho sempre adorato Carofiglio, come scrive, come parla, di cosa scrive, il mio amore l'avvocato Guerrieri su tutto. E anche con quest'ultimo romanzo non sono rimasta delusa.
Una storia di un figlio e di un padre, separati da anni di rapporti distaccati, che si ritrovano insieme, soli, per due giorni e due notti da passare in bianco. E parlano, si raccontano, si osservano, si vedono come due persone e non solo come padre e come figlio, forse per la prima volta nella loro vita.
Due persone con i loro sogni, le loro disillusioni, i loro talenti e i loro pensieri bui. E in queste ore insieme si divertono, si conoscono davvero, si apprezzano per quelle che sono e si raccontano cose che non avrebbero mai pensato poter confidarsi prima.
Un libro che da' speranza, un libro malinconico anche, in un'attraente Marsiglia in cui jazz, malviventi, feste, spiagge bellissime, si mischiano e danno un senso di avventura al tempo trascorso insieme di questi due uomini. 
Un libro che consiglio davvero, che sicuramente non piacera' a tutti, ma che a me ha toccato il cuore e ha commosso.
Comunque, ma e Guerrieri quando torna???

“Ci sono occasioni in cui occorre parlare e non bisogna dare nulla per scontato. Poi ci sono occasioni in cui, invece, devi rimanere in silenzio perché nell’ aria c’è qualcosa d’impalpabile e prezioso, è le tue parole potrebbero disperderlo in un istante.
Sono due concetti semplici. La parte difficile è decidere quando applicare una regola è quando l’altra.”

Overall rating: 9      Plot: 9     Writing style: 9      Cover:  8



Title: Le tre del mattino
Author: Gianrico Carofiglio
Publisher: Einaudi
Pages: 176
Publication year: 2017

Plot:
Antonio è un liceale solitario e risentito, suo padre un matematico dal passato brillante; i rapporti fra i due non sono mai stati facili. Un pomeriggio di giugno dei primi anni Ottanta atterrano a Marsiglia, dove una serie di circostanze inattese li costringerà a trascorrere insieme due giorni e due notti senza sonno. E così che il ragazzo e l'uomo si conoscono davvero, per la prima volta; si specchiano l'uno nell'altro e si misurano con la figura della madre ed ex moglie, donna bellissima ed elusiva. La loro sarà una corsa turbinosa, a tratti allucinata a tratti allegra, fra quartieri malfamati, spettacolari paesaggi di mare, luoghi nascosti e popolati da creature notturne. Un viaggio avventuroso e struggente sull'orizzonte della vita.

The Author:
Gianrico Carofiglio e' figlio della scrittrice Enza Buono e fratello dell'architetto, scrittore e illustratore Francesco Carofiglio. Vive a Bari con la moglie e i due figli. Presidente della Fondazione lirico sinfonica Petruzzelli e Teatri di Bari si dimette dalla carica il 4 agosto 2016.
Magistrato dal 1986, ha lavorato come pretore a Prato, pubblico ministero a Foggia e in seguito ha svolto le funzioni di Sostituto procuratore alla Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia di Bari.
Al momento di rientrare in servizio, dopo il mandato parlamentare, ha dato le dimissioni dalla magistratura, dichiarando di volersi dedicare alla scrittura a tempo pieno.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

October 2017 Wrap up


The leaves, the pumpkins, the witches and the vampires. A month for cozy tights and light jackets and good novels. Here are my October reads, not many but two novels were over 600 pages each:

The two-family house - L. Cohen Loigman
A great family saga set in Jewish NY city in the 50s. Loved it!
Rating:  9 out of 10

The widow - F. Barton
Gripping and engrossing dark story, very enjoyable.
Rating:  7,5 out of 10

Dentro soffia il vento - F. Diotallevi
Non esattemente il mio genere. Passo!
Rating:  6 out of 10

Autumn - A. Smith
I just cannot get into her writing style at all.
Rating:  Abandoned

A question of trust - P. Vincenzi
Enchanting, gossipy, a treat!
Rating:  7 out of 10

4321 - P. Auster
Written very well and original idea, but way too long and dull in parts.
Rating: 6 out 10

Not working - L. Owens
Like reading a magazine, nice enough, but very forgettable.
Rating: 5 out 10

We have always lived in the castle - S. Jackson
Gothic, strange, brilliant!
Rating;  8,5 out of 10

Le tre del mattino - G. Carofiglio
Commovente, denso, bello bello bello
Rating:  9 out of 10




Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Book Review: We have always lived in the castle - S. Jackson


“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in our family is dead.” 

What a little gem of a gothic, scary novel! 
Mary Katherine, known as Merricat, is a young lady who lives in this big house with her sister Connie and her invalid uncle. They are kind of recluse after Connie is accused of having poisoned and killed all the rest her family including mother.father, brother and aunt.  The story is told by Merricat herself and she has a very authoritative voice, even if she also sounds very young and immature for her age. She seems very fragile and gentle at the beginning, but then her wild side comes up pretty quickly.
A great Halloween read. creepy and weird, very well written.

“I can’t help it when people are frightened,” says Merrycat. “I always want to frighten them more”. 


Overall rating: 8,5      Plot: 8,5     Writing style: 8,5      Cover:  7



Title: We have always lived in the castle
Author: Shirley Jackson
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 880
Publication year: 1962

Plot:
Living in the Blackwood family home with only her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian for company, Merricat just wants to preserve their delicate way of life. But ever since Constance was acquitted of murdering the rest of the family, the world isn't leaving the Blackwoods alone. And when Cousin Charles arrives, armed with overtures of friendship and a desperate need to get into the safe, Merricat must do everything in her power to protect the remaining family.

The Author:
Shirley Hardie Jackson (December 14, 1916 – August 8, 1965) was an American writer. She was popular during her life, and her work has received increased attention from literary critics in recent years. When her short story The Lotterywas first published in The New Yorker in 1948, readers were so horrified they sent her hate mail; it has since become one of the most iconic American stories of all time. Her first novel, The Road Through the Wall, was published in the same year and was followed by five more: HangsamanThe Bird's NestThe Sundial,The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, widely seen as her masterpiece. In addition to her dark, brilliant novels, she wrote lightly fictionalized magazine pieces about family life with her four children and her husband, the critic Stanley Edgar Hyman. Shirley Jackson died in her sleep in 1965 at the age of 48.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Book Review: 4 3 2 1 - P. Auster


“Why isn’t this little boy in school?, to which his mother replied, with a hard stare into the nosy man’s face: None of your business. That was the best moment of those strange two months, or one of the best moments, unforgettable because of the sudden feeling of happiness that rose up in him when his mother said those words, happier than at any time in weeks, and the sense of solidarity those words implied, the two of them against the world, struggling to put themselves together again, and none of your business was the credo of that double effort, a sign of how much they were depending on each other now. “

One thing is certain: Paul Auster can write, and he can do so as a master. He could write the shopping list and it would be interesting. Secondly, the plot is quite original, as it covers the life of this young Jewish, Archibald Ferguson, in four different ways, a bit like the movie Sliding doors, what would have happened if. And in this case there are four paths that Archie's life could have taken.
Reading the plot on the back cover of the novel, I though he had a mental health issue and the four people lived at once within himself, silly me! So at the beginning I was very confused, and then I suddenly understood what the plot really was about.
I really liked the characters, especially Archie's mother, Rose, positive, strong and a great maternal figure.
Nothing really happens in the book, it is the ordinary story of a family, to which tragedies happen, depending on which path it is, of minor or major gravity, but overall the novel describes the day to day life and thoughts of the main character. Which I found very interesting, For a bit. Then I wanted to skip pages to see if something more happens through the book, which is a thick one.

Overall, great original idea and superbly written, but too long in describing day to day life.

“That was the real difference, Ferguson concluded. Not too little money or too much money, not what a person did or failed to do, not buying a larger house or a more expensive car, but ambition. That explained why Brownstein and Solomon managed to float through their lives in relative peace—because they weren’t tormented by the curse of ambition.”

Overall rating: 6      Plot: 5     Writing style: 8      Cover:  6,5



Title: 4 3 2 1 

Author: Paul Auster
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Pages: 880
Publication year: 2017

Plot:

On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plot of each Ferguson's story rushes on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid twentieth-century America. A boy grows up-again and again and again.

The Author:
Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Winter JournalSunset ParkInvisibleThe Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. He has been awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, the Prix Médicis étranger, an Independent Spirit Award, and the Premio Napoli. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Book Review: A question of trust - P. Vincenzi


Reading Penny Vincenzi's books is always a pleasure, like stealing half an hour of reading time eating a chocolate (maybe even more than one!) during a working week.
Her writing style is rich, smooth, captivating and enchanting. After few pages you travel right inside her world of gossip, high society, richness and fashion, let alone marriages, friendships and human relations in general.
And this latest novel does not disappoint either, as normal it is a thick book, over 600 pages, but you get so involved in the plot that you do not even realise it is so long.
The characters in the book are a lot, but it is easy to get to know them and start having preferences for one or the other. The main characters are Tom, the postman son who is smart and brilliant and sees in front of him a career in politics, and Diane, the rich and glamorous daughter of the village's lord and lady of the manor. They both go through very rough patches in their lives, but, even if very differently, they both survive and grow stronger because of them. In my view, while Tom is very likable at the beginning of the story, he then become not a very nice person, selfish and hypocrite; while Diana, a spoiled young girl at the start of the plot, becomes a warm, positive figure while the story evolves. My favourite people in the book are Jillie, a solar, strong woman that becomes a doctor and reacts in a very respectable manner to a very bad break up; and Ned, another doctor, who fights for the right of the children to have their mothers with them while in hospital.
In summary a very enchanting novel, rich and dark in its gossipy plot. A "guilty treat" if you want, to savour and escape from your day to day life.

Overall rating: 7      Plot: 7     Writing style: 8      Cover:  5



Title: A question of trust
Author: Penny Vincenzi
Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 608
Publication year: 2017

Plot:


1950s London. Tom Knelston is charismatic, working class and driven by ambition, ideals and passion. He is a man to watch. His wife Alice shares his vision. It seems they are the perfect match.Then out of the blue, Tom meets beautiful and unhappily married Diana Southcott, a fashion model. An exciting but dangerous affair is inevitable and potentially damaging to their careers. And when a child becomes ill, Tom is forced to make decisions about his principles, his reputation, his marriage, and most of all, his love for his child.

The Author:
Penny Vincenzi is one of the UK’s best-loved and most popular authors. Since her first novel, Old Sins, was published in 1989, she has written fifteen bestselling novels, including The Decision and the number one bestsellers The Best of Times and An Absolute Scandal.Her first ‘proper’ job was at the Harrods Library, aged sixteen, after which she went to secretarial college. She joined the Mirror and later became a journalist, writing for The Times, the Daily Mail and Cosmopolitan amongst many others, before turning to fiction. Several years later, over seven million copies of Penny’s books have been sold worldwide and she is universally held to be the ‘doyenne of the modern blockbuster’ (Glamour). Penny Vincenzi has four daughters, and divides her time between London and Gower, South Wales.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Book Review: Dentro soffia il vento - F. Diotallevi


“Non lasciare che qualcuno ti dica in cosa credere, ragiona con la tua testa, segui l’istinto. Nessuno dovrà importi chi amare. L’amore non si insegna, è l’unica cosa che non posso spiegarti. Non posso dirti quali battaglie combattere, dovrai capirlo da sola e non sarà facile. L’amore non lo è mai, richiede coraggio e tenacia. Non si sceglie, è sempre lui che sceglie te.”

Di primo acchitto la trama di questo libro non mi attirava, lontana dai libri che normalmente piacciono a me, e un po' troppo "magia romanzata". Ma ho letto tanto recensioni molto positive, lettrici a cui questo romanzo ha commosso ed ha lasciato molto, quindi ho deciso di leggerlo mettendo da parte i miei pregiudizi sulla trama.
La prima cosa che voglio dire e' che e' scritto bene, la scrittura e' fluida e ricca. Ma la trama proprio non mi e' piaciuta! Troppo fantasiosa, troppi elementi non spiegati (del tipo ma Fiamma cosa mangia?), troppo sentimentale e banalotto nello svolgimento del trito e ritrito ci amiamo ma non vogliamo dircelo,.A me tutto quello che e' stregoneria, dicerie di paese, fantasmi non convince proprio, a meno che non abbia una spiegazioone o sia legato ad avventimento realmente accaduti nella storia. 
L'ambientazione nello sperduto paese valdostano di Saint Rhemy e' suggestiva, come lo e' il racconto del lavoro dei montanari. La figura del prete, per me, abbastanza inutile, nel senso che a parte un exploit di coraggio e cameratismo finale, non aggiunge ne' toglie nulla alla trama per gran parte del libro. 
In sintesi, purtroppo un libro che non mi ha lasciato nulla, di cui dimentichero' trama e personaggi gia' la prossima settimana. Scritto bene, ma la trama proprio non fa per me.

Overall rating: 6      Plot: 5     Writing style: 6,5      Cover:  6,5



Title: Dentro soffia il vento
Author: Francesca Diotallevi
Publisher: Neri Pozza
Pages: 180
Publication year: 2016

Plot:
In un avvallamento tra due montagne della Val d’Aosta, al tempo della Grande Guerra, sorge il borgo di Saint Rhémy: un piccolo gruppo di case affastellate le une sulle altre, in mezzo alle quali spunta uno sparuto campanile.
Al calare della sera, da una di quelle case, con il volto opportunamente protetto dall’oscurità, qualche «anima pia» esce a volte per avventurarsi nel bosco e andare a bussare alla porta di un capanno dove vive Fiamma, una ragazza dai capelli così rossi che sembrano guizzare come lingue di fuoco in un camino.
Come faceva sua madre quand’era ancora in vita, Fiamma prepara decotti per curare ogni malanno: asma, reumatismi, cattiva digestione, insonnia, infezioni… Infusi d’erbe che, in bocca alla gente del borgo diventano «pozioni » approntate da una «strega» che ha venduto l’anima al diavolo. Così, mentre al calare delle ombre gli abitanti di Saint Rhémy compaiono furtivi alla sua porta, alla luce del sole si segnano al passaggio della ragazza ed evitano persino di guardarla negli occhi.
Il piccolo e inospitale capanno e il bosco sono perciò l’unica realtà che Fiamma conosce, l’unico luogo in cui si sente al sicuro. La solitudine, però, a volte le pesa addosso come un macigno, soprattutto da quando Raphaël Rosset se n’è andato.
Era inaspettatamente comparso un giorno al suo cospetto, Raphaël, quando era ancora un bambino sparuto, con una folta matassa di capelli biondi come il grano e una spruzzata di lentiggini sul naso a patata. Le aveva parlato normalmente, come si fa tra ragazzi ed era diventato col tempo il suo migliore e unico amico. Poi, a ventuno anni, in un giorno di sole era partito per la guerra con il sorriso stampato sul volto e la penna di corvo ben lucida sul cappello, e non era più tornato. Ora, ogni sera alla stessa ora, Fiamma si spinge al limitare del bosco, fino alla fattoria dei Rosset. Prima di scomparire inghiottita dal buio della notte, se ne sta a guardare a lungo la casa dove, in preda ai sensi di colpa per non essere andato lui in guerra, si aggira sconsolato Yann, il fratello zoppo di Raphaël… il fratello che la odia.

The Author:
Francesca Diotallevi è nata a Milano nel 1985. È laureata in Scienze dei Beni Culturali e lavora in uno studio legale. Tra le sue opere Le stanze buieAmedeo, je t’aime e il racconto pubblicato in e-book Le Grand Diable, prequel di Dentro soffia il vento.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Guildford Book Festival - Readers' Day - 14th October 2017



Just back from Readers' day at Guildford Book Festival last Saturday and what a great event!

Firstly, very nice organisation, a giant gazebo at the cricket club, which probably was not the best for sound, however it was furnished deliciously with a proper sofa and armchair (pink!) for the authors and bookshelves and chandelier. The buffet was gorgeous too!

Now to the important part; the authors (or authoresses, I must say!). What a pleasure to hear them talking about their new novels, how they became writers, how they piratically write, etc.

First on where two ladies - Polly Clark and Rachel Joyce - which novels are very different but one of the common theme is the community and the sense of or lack of it.
Polly Clark's Larchfield sounds amazing and I am very glad I discovered it as probably from the plot itself and the book cover I would have given it a miss. I thought it was going to be a slow, a bit boring book on a poet, instead it sounds witty and funny but also touching some themes that I feel very close to my heart such as maternity and all the feelings that come with becoming a mother. After having heard Polly reading a passage in the book, I could not  resist buying it and getting it signed too!
Rachel Joyce is very well known and at her third novel - The music shop. I must confess that I do have The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry but I haven't read it as yet! anyway her books sound amazing and so does her last one, which is all about music and really listening to it and how music can help healing people. Rachel Joyce told us that the idea of the book came from the inspiration from a real bookshop where the owner suggested to her husband a CD to help him with his sleep issues.

Then was time to talk thrillers, with Fiona Barton and Lucy Atkins, both previously journalist and now both successfully queens in the genre called psychological thriller.
I recently read The widow from Fiona Barton and really liked it (read the review here), so I am really looking forward to read her latest novel The child, where Kate the journalist come back. And apparently she will be back for the third novel too, which Fiona is writing at the moment.
Fiona told us that she has always had the habit of cutting out from newspapers bits of news and then she uses them to take inspiration for her stories. She has also confessed that she writes in her bed, still in her pjs!
I have not read as yet any of Lucky Atkins' books, but I will for sure! She used to be a well-being/medical journalist so that's where she takes a lot of her inspiration. Her latest thriller - The night visitor - is all about dung beetles apparently! Well they figured in the book, which in reality is all about two women working together and their secrets!

After lunch, on the sofa was the turn of Veronica Henry and Kate Eberlen, authors of romantic novels, if we want to put them into a genre.
I liked Veronica Henry's How to find love in a bookshop, a very cozy, heartwarming novel. And I am very curios to read this latest book - The forever house - and also the novel she has written set on the Orient Express.
I never heard of Kate Eberlen before and again I am so glad I got to know her novel as it sounds very very pleasant so again I had to buy it and get it signed! It is all about a girl and a boy who keep missing each other - a kind of Sliding doors meets One day. Sounds exciting and it starts with a scene set in Florence!

Unfortunately the "star" of the show - Penny Vincenzi - could not attend the event for health reason. Disappointing as I love her books and I am reading her latest A question of trust at the moment.
However brilliantly the festival's organizers have managed to replace her with another brilliant lady, whose first novel made me laugh out loud (and the movie too!): Allison Pearson. She has just published the sequel of I don' know how she does it, with the title of How hard can it be? and the main character Kate is now dealing with teenager kids, menopause, going back to work and a husband in full mid-life crisis. The novel sounds hilarious, as the previous one was and the themes touched are so contemporary and actual. I actually read her previous novel before having kids so I really need to read it again now that I am going through what Kate was in the book!

It was a pleasant surprise at the end to receive a goody bag with a copy of Woman&Home - the sponsor of the event - and also two proof copies of novels!

I would highly recommend The Readers' day and I really hope to be able to attend it next year again!

The books presented at the Festival:

- Larchfield - Polly Clark
- The Music shop - Rachel Joyce
- The Child - Fiona Barton
- The night visitor - Lucy Atkins
- Miss you - Kate Eberlen
- The forever house - Veronica Henry
- How hard can it be? - Allison Pearson




Friday, 13 October 2017

Book Review: The widow - F. Barton


“I remember looking at him lying there in a small pool of blood and thinking ‘oh well, that’s the end of his nonsense” 

I definitely liked this psychological thriller, very gripping and engrossing. Told mainly from the "widow" perspective, this is a book about crime but also, and probably more, about dysfunctional marriages and unbalanced power in a couple. 
I personally find difficult to empathizes with the "widow", as in I don't think I could live in a such a bubble and not face the truth, however I know that there are a lot of women out there that are subdued to their partners and they are psychologically very dependent on them. So this story can happen, has happened before and this is probably what I liked in the book, it kind of explains the "how can these things happen", which is what we normally ask ourselves after reading the news.
The "monster" in the novel does not appear to be a monster at all, but he is actually thought as a loving, caring husband by his wife. And it is just when he is gone that she feels an impossible weight coming off her shoulders.
I appreciated very much the character of the journalist, who finally convinces the widow to release an interview. A person who can listen and can pierce through people and get them to confess their deepest secrets.
A very interesting thriller, read in a flash, and I will definitely read also The child from the same author. I am also very excited to meet Fiona Barton, together with other writers, on Saturday 14th October at the readers' day at Guildford Book Festival!!  

Overall rating: 7,5      Plot: 7,5     Writing style: 7      Cover:  6,5


Title: The widow
Author: Fiona Barton
Publisher: Corgi 
Pages: 400
Publication year: 2016

Plot:
Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. 
Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.
But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.


The Author:
Fiona Barton (Cambridge, 1957)  trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Book Review: The two-family house - L. Cohen Loigman


“Abe was a lucky man. He told himself that every morning while he dressed and every night before he went to sleep. Abe wasn't religious but every day he thanked God for his beautiful wife, his four healthy sons, his brother and his business. Sometimes he left out his brother, but only when Mort was being a pain in the ass.” 

I will truly miss the characters of this novel, I loved them so much. The altruistic Helen, the grumpy Mort, the bigger than life Abe, the bitter Rose, the smart Judith, the sweet Teddy, the pretty geek Natalie and all the others. I just loved this book, it is first of all a gripping story of the Jewish families of two brothers who live in a two-family house in Brooklyn and cover the late 40s, 50s and 60s, while the families grow, move, have quarrels, big tragedies, a lot of love and affection. And as underline there is the suspense created by  the mysterious circumstances of the birth of the cousins Natalie and Teddy, born on the same day, minutes apart, during one of NY worse storms. 
On top of a great plot, the characters, as I previously mentioned, are all great in their strength and weaknesses, they all have a very specific personality and they all have a particular voice, chapter after chapter, so you end up being so involved in their lives, at moment you think you are part of the families too! 
The novel is also written in such a smooth, linear way it is just a pleasure to read the words coming together.
I highly recommend this novel - one of the best reads for me this year so far!


Overall rating: 9      Plot: 9     Writing style: 10      Cover:  8


Title: The two-family house
Author: Lynda Cohen Loigman
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Pages: 304
Publication year: 2016

Plot:
Brooklyn, 1947: in the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born minutes apart to two women. They are sisters by marriage with an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic night; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and their once deep friendship begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost but not quite wins.

The Author:
Lynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, MA. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. She is now a student of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, and lives with her husband and two children in Chappaqua, New York.