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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on June 13, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Length: 8 hrs 59 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey McGinty, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s back room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left. Bedazzling, addictive, and wildly clever, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a heart-pounding mystery that perfectly captures the intellect and eccentricity of the bookstore milieu and will keep you guessing until the very last page.​

I admit it – I picked up Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore based mostly on the title and cover. I have trouble passing up mysteries centered in bookstores. While it was not really what I expected, I enjoyed it. I expected a lighter mystery, more cozy. While not gory or violent, this one is disturbing at times.

Lydia is the only survivor of the night the Hammerman killed her friend and her friend’s parents, but she hides this fact from everyone. She was a child at the time, but the Hammerman was never caught. Fast forward and now she’s an adult, working at a bookstore, living with her boyfriend, who she has not told about her past.

As the story opens, Lydia discovers one of the bookfrogs, Joey, has committed suicide in the book store. That would be devastating enough, but in his pocket he has a picture of Lydia as a child, with two of her friends, which is odd because Lydia didn’t even know Joey when she was young. Turns out Joey also left her all of his belongings, mostly junk and books. The books, however, are a code that leads her into his life and back into the mystery that has haunted her. There is some minor new coverage of the suicide, which gets Lydia’s picture in the paper. Several people recognize her and now know where to find her, including a childhood friend and a detective who was obsessed with the Hammerman case.

The characters were well-done, even the ones we only meet briefly. Lydia, as the main character, is the most developed, and a lot of the story revolves around her relationships. I don’t necessarily understand her all the time and I don’t think I’d want her as a friend, but I liked her and I liked how much she cared about Joey. The characters are colorful in a way that fits the darker tone of the book. They have their obsessions and secrets. They are all dealing with the consequences of actions, taken by themselves of others.

I listened to the audio and was so-so on the narrator. She did Lydia quite well, but men’s voices and dialogue was just too slow.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore has many layers and deals with relationship, truths, secrets and how our actions can hurt others, sometimes beyond repair. I guess it’s a rather sad book. At the same time, it is definitely a mystery for and about booklovers. I wish I had chosen print over audio, though.

About Matthew Sullivan

Matthew Sullivan grew up in a family of eight children in suburban Denver, Colorado. He received his B.A. from the University of San Francisco, his M.F.A. from the University of Idaho, and has been a resident writer at Yaddo, Centrum, and the Vermont Studio Center. His writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and other awards, and has won the Florida Review Editor’s Prize and the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize. In addition to working for years at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver and at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, he has taught writing and literature at colleges in Boston, Idaho, and Poland, and currently teaches writing, literature, and film at Big Bend Community College in the high desert of Washington State. He is married to a librarian, Libby, and has two children and a scruffy dog named Ernie.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Thursday’s Tale: Beauty and the Goblin King

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Thursday’s Tale: Beauty and the Goblin King Beauty and the Goblin King by Lidiya Foxglove
Series: Fairy Tale Heat #1
Published by the author on April 27, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Erotic Romance, Fairy tale
Pages: 154
Format: eBook
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For the past ten years, the Goblin King has stayed locked away in his caverns. He only opens his doors for one purpose: he will give one gold coin for every night a girl is willing to spend with him. Despite his fearsome reputation, his fangs and claws, the girls come back safe and sound, and they never say a word about it. One must be very desperate to accept such an offer…or very curious. Well, everyone says curiosity has always been my downfall. Too clever for a girl so beautiful.

Now my family is on the brink of losing everything. My sister Clara knows the goblin king’s story has always intrigued me, and she’s willing to sacrifice me to get her hands on his money. But I finally have the chance to sate my curiosity.

What will I find when I get there? A man who is cruelly cursed, haunted by a past misdeed? Or the man who will unlock all of my secret desires?

It has been a long time since the Goblin King trusted anyone, but if he is willing to trust me, I might be able to save him and his people. But the witch who cursed him is close at hand, and she doesn’t play fair.

Beauty and the Goblin King is definitely a re-telling for grown-ups. Our beauty, Sabela, goes the Goblin King’s castle by choice. Her family needs the gold that the Goblin King gives to girls willing to spend the night with him. Okay, her family definitely pressures her to do it, but she always been a bit fascinated by the stories and this gives her an excuse to allow herself to go.

This is erotica. There are several steamy scenes, but you do get to actually like Sabela and Nyar, the King, and believe in their relationship. She’s brave and curious and open-minded. He’s caring, under his rough exterior, and sexy. It’s only 150-ish pages so we don’t get quite as much character and world-building as we might in a longer story, but I think I prefer my erotic romances on the shorter side. I was rooting for their happily-ever-after, which they do get.

As a re-telling it borrows mostly from Disney’s version, complete with animate forks , plates, etc. This time, however, they are goblins who have been trapped. A couple of them are well-done for minor characters, willing to do whatever they can to help their king. I really appreciated that the supporting female characters were so strong and independent.

I actually enjoyed this re-telling more than I thought I would. It was a fun, quick read. It was a good balance between the tale and the romance. There were some touching bits, a few tense moments, and the ending made me smile.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

About Lidiya Foxglove

Lidiya Foxglove likes her fairy tales to be very naughty indeed. She grew up on a steady diet of fairy tales, folklore and fantasy and loves the swoon-worthy romance and happily ever afters, but thinks the best fairy tales also have the thrill of forbidden desires. If she’s not writing, she’s probably reading.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

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Magpie Murders by  Anthony Horowitz Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Narrator: Samantha Bond, Allan Corduner
Published by Harper Audio on June 6, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Length: 15 hrs 47 mins
Format: Audiobook
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When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

I should have loved Magpie Murders. It’s definitely a book for mystery readers. Not only does it have two well-plotted mysteries, it has some great quotes about the nature of mysteries and reading.

“You must know that feeling when it’s raining outside and the heating’s on and you lose yourself, utterly, in a book. You read and you read and you feel the pages slipping through your fingers until suddenly there are fewer in your right hand than there are in your left and you want to slow down but you still hurtle on towards a conclusion you can hardly bear to discover.”

“As far as I’m concerned, you can’t beat a good whodunnit: the twists & turns, the clues and the red herrings and then, finally, the satisfaction of having everything explained to you in a way that makes you kick yourself because you hadn’t seen it from the start.”

The set up is great, a novel within a novel, both murder mysteries. In the “real world,” editor Susan Ryeland is reading the manuscript for Magpie Murders, but the last chapter is missing, and as all mystery reader know, that’s when the grand denouement happens, so to not have that is incredibly frustrating. The problem is, the author, Alan Conway, is dead, an apparent suicide. Obviously, he was actually murdered and Susan becomes our amateur detective, of course almost gets killed in the process of solving the crime.

I listened to the audio and I do think having two narrators worked well, one for the manuscript and one for Susan’s portion of the story. Each did a good job and fit their part well.The problem for me is that I cared more about the “fictional” mystery than about Susan’s life and investigations. I liked the traditional English town mystery, with the investigator who is always just a step ahead, who puts all the clues and coincidences together. I was drawn into the town gossip, the secrets, the characters. Then we came to Susan’s life in London and, honestly, I was a little annoyed. Her story just wasn’t as engrossing for me. It was interesting how the “real” world mirrored Saxby-on-Avon from the manuscript, but I wish the two mysteries had been equally compelling and they just weren’t.

Edited: I wanted to add that there was an odd sound way in the background of the recording. Every time I was listening to the book until I realized what was going on, I though I heard the dog, the sound of his tags rattling. I finally realized it was the book. I can’t really put my finger on what it was, the recording equipment or something, but it wasn’t my player because it doesn’t happen with other books.

About Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz is one of the most prolific and successful writers working in the UK – and is unique for working across so many media, juggling writing books, TV series, films, plays and journalism.

Anthony has written over 40 books including the bestselling teen spy series Alex Rider, which he adapted into a movie that was released worldwide in 2006. Anthony is also an acclaimed writer for adults and was commissioned by the Conan Doyle Estate and Orion Books to write two new Sherlock Holmes novels. The House of Silk was published in November 2011 and was internationally lauded as the top title of the autumn. The sequel, Moriarty, was published in October 2014 with similar success. Most recently he was commissioned by the Ian Fleming Estate to write the James Bond novel Trigger Mortis, which was published on 8th September 2015.

Anthony is responsible for creating and writing some of the UK’s most beloved and successful television series, producing the first seven episodes (and the title) of Midsomer Murders. He is the writer and creator of award-winning drama series Foyle’s War. Anthony has also written other original complex dramas for ITV, particularly thrillers.

Anthony is on the board of the Old Vic Theatre. He regularly contributes to a wide variety of national newspapers and magazines on subjects ranging from politics to education. He has been a patron to East Anglia Children’s Hospices and the anti-bullying charity, Kidscape, since 2008.

Anthony was awarded an OBE for his services to literature in January 2014.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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