Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

A Winner of the Alex Award, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave. –Goodreads summary

Publication Date: October 2, 2012.

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this:
A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”

My Thoughts:

As someone who identifies herself as a bibliophile, this book resonates deeply with me.  Mainly, the book reveals a deep dedication, admiration, and respect for books.  Many characters throughout the novel have some affiliation with books which plays an integral role in their past, present, and future.  This is largely seen in the protagonist, Clay Jannon.  Searching for a job, Jannon finds himself becoming a clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (by the way, why does a 24-hour bookstore not exist?).  Quickly, he finds himself succumbing to the power of books as he examines a strange group of frequent customers.  Unexpectedly, Jannon finds himself intermingling with a mystery involving books, secret groups, and potential immortality.  Wait, books can do that?  Yes, Jannon discovers they can!

Besides the look for books, I appreciated the way this story unraveled.  While I went into this book with no expectations, I had some preconceived notions with how this plot would ensue (basically, just accounts of owning a bookstore).  Essentially, this plot twists and turns in ways that one could never imagine.  Indeed, this is a sign that Sloan, the author, is aware of his audience and knows how to keep them anticipatory for the subsequent actions.  As the plot developed, the mysteries and characters developed; you just had to keep reading in order to get to the root of this chaos.  Admittedly, I got frustrated; I wanted to know what happened and did not possess the patience at times.  However, I am glad that Sloan wrote this book in this manner as it gave the novel interest.

Additionally, this book presents very interesting themes, themes which many books have not attempted to discuss.  For example, the theme of technology and its advancement is strongly emphasized in the book.  Sloan presents different arguments of how technology advances and hinders the human race.  This theme and others are thought-provoking and require the audience to engage in their own analyses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, to say the least.  Everything about this book is enjoyable.  Even though I was excited for the book to end so I could figure out the “grand mystery,” I was sad to flip to the last page.  I had genuinely grown attached to the characters and plot that I wanted it to continue!  Sadly, it is over.  However, I am hopeful that Sloan may possibly write more in the future (or maybe he has published other books) because he is truly a talented author!

My Rating:

★★★★★ 5/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this for my fellow bibliophiles!

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Top Ten Books of 2013

Well, this post is long overdue.  However, coming up with my top 10 favorite books of the year was a hard task.  I read 35 books this year which was over my goal of 30; for many, this is not much, but I am a fulltime college student with a job and involvement in many extracurricular organizations.  Time is precious to me!  Here’s the list of my top 10 favorite books of this year in order (10 being the lowest and 1 being the highest)!

10.  One Child by Torey Hayden

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I was required to read this book for my special education course while in college, and I absolutely loved it.  It reaffirmed my desire to be a teacher so I could impact students similar to the way Torey impacted little Sheila’s life.  I highly recommend this book for anyone going into education or child care.  Our jobs aren’t easy, but our impacts are tremendous!

9.  All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki

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I was required to read this book for my American Literature since 1945 course, and I also loved it!  Ozekie beautifully pieces together the story of the love, determination, and companionship.  Her imagery is absolutely beautiful and enhances her prose.

8.  The Odyssey by Homer

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This is by far one of my favorite classics.  Naturally, I love Greek and Roman mythology so seeing Zeus, Poseidon, and Athena in this story was great.  The themes and characters were excellent, and this story truly withstands the test of time in my opinion.

7.  Sea by Heidi R. Kling

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I’m not the world’s biggest contemporary romance fan.  It takes a lot for me to believe the honesty of 90% of all Young Adult Contemporary Romances.  The romance in this book was so realistic.  Plus it takes place in Indonesia after the tsunami, and the main character is doing cleanup work.  AHH, finally!   A YA protagonist who thinks beyond herself.  This is a must read for all because its themes beyond the romance are pertinent to all our lives.  My review can be seen here.

6.  Too Fast by Alexia Haynes

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I received this book as an ARC and did not expect to love it as much as I did.  Additionally, this was my first New Adult book, and it had my swooning.  I loved the characters; they were flawed but perfect at the same time.  I really hope Alexia writes more in 2014 because I will read ANYTHING she writes.  My review can be seen here.

5.  The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

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This is one of my favorite Nicholas Sparks’s novels.  Typically, I am heartbroken by his endings, but this novel ended perfectly that I could be nothing but happy.  The characters are fantastic (Logan is AMAZING) and watching the development of the main characters’ relationship and them confronting their fears was so heartwarming.  My review can be seen here.

4.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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I am extremely late to reading this novel.  I tend to hold out on many “popular books” because they always tend to disappoint me.  However, this book is far from disappointing.  I loved Charlie and was easy to relate to him.  At some point in our lives, we have all been wallflowers, and this story enabled me to accept and appreciate my introverted-ness.  My review can be seen here.

3.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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Do I need to elaborate?  This book is beautiful, and all of us book-lovers are all like Liesel.  My review can be seen here.

2.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

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I took a Shakespeare course this past semester, and we were exposed to a variety of his work.  However, this is my favorite.  I loved Bottom and Puck!  The ending was hysterical, and I loved the last monologue at the end of the play.  I really want to see this performed because I LOVED it!

1.   Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

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Who would have thought that a YA Contemporary Romance would be my favorite book of this year?  I loved Brittany and Alex.  Even though this story is a stereotypical “star-crossed lovers” story, it was very authentic and original.  Beyond their romance, Brittany and Alex learned to confront and deal with their problems.  I look forward to continuing this series this year because I LOVED IT SO MUCH!

And there you have it!  My top 10 favorite books that I read in 2013.  I will be doing my top 5 disappointing reads in 2013 later.  My top ten books post will see you next year!!

What were some of your favorite books of 2013?

Book Review: Sweet

It’s Saturday, so that means that it is time for a book review!  Saturday Book Reviews are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.

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Witnessing a brutal murder at work is only the beginning of Celia’s problems. The fact that the victim is a vampire only proves to complicate her life even more. The vampires of New England have always had an undetected existence among humans but with the unprovoked death of one of their own, the lust for revenge has begun. Celia’s concerns are magnified when a hunter from Dallas arrives in town. With Jay’s sexy smile and rugged ways, Celia finds herself wanting to spend time with him despite being mysteriously linked to the nest that is threatening to become extinct if Jay gets his way. When four bodies are found drained of blood; Jay teams up with a local bunch to take out all the undead which coincidentally, includes her boyfriend Victor. Celia won’t stand seeing anything happen to Victor but refuses to hurt Jay as well. Confusion, lust, rage and violence intertwine as worlds collide. Celia will soon discover that her neat little existence is not what it seems as her cryptic past and present start to unravel.-Goodreads summary

Favorite Quote from the Book:

‘Anything gets tough, you push it away.  Anything that threatens your little bubble, you lash out ’cause that’s the only way you know how to handle it.’

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:

I’m not the biggest fan of this cover.  In addition to the plot summary, I find it to be misleading.

Things that Made Me Happy:

Wilkerson wrote in a way that was easy to comprehend; her writing reflected a conversational tone, which made it a quick and easy read. 

The last 30 pages of the novel were tense, and I wanted to read to the book’s conclusion.

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

Oh, I hate when I struggle to find pros for a book but can assert numerous cons…well, here we go.

As mentioned, the writing style of this book was extremely rudimentary.  While it made this an easy read, I found there to be a complete disregard for basic grammar and mechanics.  Had these errors been contained to just the dialogue, I would not have felt quite so perturbed, as the conversation would reflect typical slang formatting.  Rather, the writing style, primarily in the non-dialogue passages, was too lackadaisical and unprofessional.  In fact every page of this book had at least one error, which made me, an English major, cry.  I could not believe that the publishing company had such a disregard for all of these mistakes.

Additionally, I was not a fan of any of the characters-both the ones that readers were supposed to like and the ones that the readers were supposed to dislike.  First, I found the main character, Celia, to be too much of an annoyance and quite contradictory.  Frequently, she snapped at other characters and created havoc.  However, at one point in the book she stated, “‘Believe me, I do not like drama.'”  I could not even take that line seriously because up until that point she had started every fight with her boyfriend, Victor, and other love interest, Jay, for ridiculous reasons, and believe me, there were many arguments.  Additionally, she treated men terribly.  All she ever stated about Victor and Jay pertained to their looks and how desperately she wanted to sleep with them, which made all the romance elements of this book to be laugh-worthy.  Speaking of romance, let’s focus on her boyfriend, Victor, as a character.  He was probably the guy your parents don’t want to meet.  He was manipulative and had to be the person in control at all times.  If there ever was a moment where he felt inferior, he disappeared-just like Celia (reference above quote).  He was detestable.  Equally repulsive was the love interest Jay.  Surprise, surprise, there was a love triangle in the book.  Jay mirrored every quality of Victor, which made Celia’s rash decisions to run to Jay every time Victor upset her completely bogus.  No rational person would surround himself or herself with an individual who was identical to his or her enemy.  Regardless, these three made a stereotypical love-triangle, which made readers either be Team Victor, Team Jay, or Team You Should Probably be Single because You Seem Slightly Unstable, Celia.  Why does this sound eerily familiar?

That’s right!  It sounds familiar because this plot has been executed many times: girl has guy; new guy comes into the equation; old guy and new guy are enemies; girl has feelings for new guy, while still leading on the old guy; girl chooses who we all know she will choose.  This book was just too much like every other post-Twilight and Twilight fanfiction that I have ever read.  I was disappointed because I appreciate an author’s boldness to step outside the boundaries and create a fantastical world, but that does not happen in Sweet.

My Rating:

★★ 2/5 stars!

Overall, this book was a disappointment.  I was anticipating a new vampire world only to be greeted by one that I have visited many times.

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy Twilight fanfiction.  I would not recommend this book to those who enjoy paranormal/vampire novels, as I feel this book would greatly aggravate you for its lack of originality.  

*Please note, I was provided this book from the author and publisher via Read it and Reap in exchange for an honest review.*

Thirsty Thursday: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Hello, lovely readers and Happy Thursday!  Today’s Thirsty Thursday post is about a book that I am super excited to read.  Thirsty Thursday is a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here!

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Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.-Goodreads summary

I saw RinceyReads on YouTube do a book review of Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, and I immediately knew that I had to read this book.

While the book deals with a serious issue of 15 year-old Bee trying to find her missing mother, Bernadette, the novel also seems to reflect a comedic and sarcastic tone and, at the same time, impart valuable messages to its readers.  That sounds all too good to be true.  However, I found that many people have also enjoyed this book.  A follower on my Tumblr book blog informed me that it was “worth all the hype.”  Additionally, people on Goodreads claim that this book is a fantastic, lighthearted, and humorous read that will surely leave a multitude of impressions on its reader.  Likewise, I also like how this book’s ratings aren’t too high as I always seem to be underwhelmed by extremely hyped books.

Overall, I anticipate reading this book!  If you have read this book, let me know what you thought of it!

*What book(s) are you looking forward to reading?  Comment below!*

Also, Happy Fourth of July to all my fellow Americans!  God bless the USA!

Worst Read Wednesday: Anna and the French Kiss

Welcome to Worst Read Wednesday in which I talk about books that were awful or that I did not enjoy as much as it was/is hyped.  Worst Read Wednesdays are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here!

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Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?-Goodreads summary

Before I begin I just want to say that I do not hate this book.  Rather, its high ratings and hype made me expect something more.  Please do not kill me! 

Anna and the French Kiss is one of the most popular YA books at my local Barnes & Noble; I had to hunt the shelves and figure out their shipment schedule in order to obtain this book.  For all the hype this book receives and the trouble I went through to purchase it, I could not wait to begin this book!

I read this book in December, 2012.  As I typically love reading romances in the summer time, there’s also something quaint about reading romance novels during the Christmas season, and I could not wait until summer to read this book!

As stated, I started reading this book with extremely high expectations.  EVERYONE told me to read it.

The book began a bit shaky for me.  Immediately, I was annoyed with the main character, Anna.  She has been given an amazing opportunity to study abroad in France.  While it is her senior year of high school and she’ll have to leave her former routine, I understand some slight disappointment.  However, Anna was extremely upset about her parents’ decision.  I recall her father’s reasoning for this trip was so she could “experience the world in which she lives.”  What a lucky girl!  Yet, Anna was appalled by her parents’ judgments and could never seem to grasp their appreciation of multiculturalism.

Therefore, this led me to believe that Anna’s character, Perkins’s attempt to fictionalize an 18 year-old girl, was not quite an accurate portrayal of girls Anna’s age.  Indeed, everyone, including characters, have their flaws, but Anna’s frequent unhappiness with her new schooling (IN PARIS!!) felt unrealistic.  I was 18 not too long ago, and I would have jumped on this experience.  Likewise, I know many others who would be thrilled to have such a trip.  

Furthermore, Anna’s frustrations do not fully cease until she meets “the boy,” Etienne St. Clair.  Admittedly, he is charming, and I did have a little crush on him.  However, I felt as thought he was too perfect.  I mean, a French/American guy with a British accent, who was also very worldly, smart, and knew exactly how to swoon girls; do such boys exist because I have never encountered one?  If they do, where do I sign up to get one?  Anyway, where Anna was lacking in some “likable” qualities, Etienne was hogging the charisma, and where Etienne was lacking in the flaws, Anna acted too annoying.  Thus, I think both Anna and Etienne needed more blending in order to be realistic teenagers.

There are some things that I really enjoyed about this book.  For example, the setting of Paris and Perkins’ descriptions of the experience were phenomenal and enable the readers to truly envision the scenery.  However, my issues with Anna and Etienne were my major reasons for not falling for this book’s hype.  In Perkins’s defense, I believe that YA Contemporary Romance is one of the hardest genres to write as one has to create a relationship that is meaningful but believable without being unbelievable or distasteful.  While the attraction between Anna and Etienne is obvious, and I enjoyed reading their various “moments” when they were together, I just could not get past the individual characters.  

Overall, this is a good book but not a fantastic book.  I look forward to reading Perkins’s next installment Lola and the Boy Next Door in the near future.

*What are some books that you did not like or felt they were/are overhyped?  Comment below!*

Thirsty Thursday-Book Edition!

Welcome to my Thirsty Thursday post in which I will be talking about a book that I cannot wait to read.  Thirsty Thursday is a part of my Daily Post; to find out more about the Daily Post and how I keep your life interesting as a book blogger, click here.

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

“Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago – surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous – and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion…by any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price – now that she has more to lose than ever.” –Goodreads summary

Fever, by Lauren DeStefano, is the second book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy.  I read Wither, the first book in the trilogy, last summer, and I absolutely loved it.  To my dismay, many people disliked it.  Admittedly, it does deal with some controversial topics such as polygamy, underage sex, and teen pregnancies.  However, I thought Lauren DeStefano wrote about these issues in a tasteful manner, and I never felt uncomfortable.

Beyond the controversies, I thought the dystopian world was intriguing.  Inexplicably, women die when they are 20, and men die when they are 25.  So, girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages in order to produce children.  In turn their offspring will become the variables of multiple scientific tests in the hopes of finding a cure to these sudden deaths.

Enter Rhine.  Tough chick.  She is kidnapped from her brother and forced into a marriage.  While her husband is extremely wealthy and willing to give her anything, Rhine wants nothing more than to return to her brother.  In the mansion she meets Gabriel, who holds similar opinions of the injustices society has placed on both men and women.  Together, they desire freedom, but not everyone is willing to let Gabriel and Rhine’s “unethical opinions” spoil the potentials for a future cure.

Seriously?  How can that not get any better.  Honestly, I know the premise may sound a little cliche, but this book is definitely my favorite book I read last summer.  I could find no flaws in the topics, character development, or plot execution.  It was phenomenal.  Unfortunately, Wither ends on an extreme cliffhanger, and I am dying to know what happens!

When I saw Fever at Barnes and Noble, I nearly fainted.  Finally, my questions will be resolved.  I am looking forward to reading this book and plan to do so in the upcoming weeks.  If you have not checked out the Chemical Garden Trilogy, I highly recommend you do so!

**What book(s) can you not wait to read?  Leave a comment below, and you may be featured in my next Thirsty Thursday post!**