Tag Archives: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Book Review: Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan (4/5)

16 Jul

This is really more of a short story, but it deserves a review. My husband and I loved Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and when I found out there was a prequel, no matter how short, I wanted to read it. I found an audio edition and on a day with a run and indoor bike, I finished the whole thing.

Cover image via Goodreads

Ajax Penumbra 1969

Other books by Sloan reviewed on this blog:

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (5/5)

Summary from Goodreads:

August 1969 San Francisco. Ajax Penumbra seeks a book–the single surviving copy of the Techne Tycheon, a mysterious volume that has brought and lost great fortune for anyone who has owned it. Late one night, after another day of dispiriting dead ends, he stumbles across a 24-hour bookstore, and the possibilities before him expand exponentially.

Maybe my memories of Ajax Penumbra from the full novel are a bit off because this character seemed a little stiff. But my memory of the 24-hour bookstore and the magic that it held were spot on. I loved coming back to the store and the mysteries within it. Mo was great and the friendships with Corvina and Claude were so fun to see develop.

The characters in this one weren’t really credible, but I wasn’t expecting them to be. Penumbra was a very eccentric character in the original novel, so I expected his origins to be equally eccentric and fun and I wasn’t disappointed. They were what I expected them to be.

Mo was my favorite character. It’s as if owning the bookstore makes you into an energetic and haphazard person and I loved that in Mo. He was very passionate about the store and what was inside it and his customers and I found that very endearing. He was also very smart. In many ways, he’s like the Mr. Penumbra we come to love but he’s very unique at the same time and I liked how Sloan built his character.

I thought Ajax going to Claude when he had a problem was a very realistic solution. There are a lot of times that someone very far from a topic or problem can provide a solution that helps more than the experts or team working on it can. Claude had a local’s perspective and I liked how he was able to help.

Robin Sloan
Image via BookRiot

I loved the story of the William Gray. I hope that’s true and that the city is really built on scuttled ships. Even if it’s not true, I still liked the story and I wish it were true because now I’m thinking about all the treasure that could be buried underground.

The actual discovery of the Techne Tycheon was my least favorite part. I liked the puzzle and the research so doing the physical work to find the book ended up being a bit of a disappointment to me. Maybe a puzzle on the lock would have been better. But now I’m stretching.

Ari Fliakos narrated the audiobook, the same man who did Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. I’m glad Ari came back for this short story. He already had a flair for Penumbra and the fun cast of characters that surrounded him and was able to bring that back.

Penumbra is determined to solve the mystery, much like Clay was in the full novel. I liked seeing the dedication to books that Penumbra and his coworkers at Galvanic had. It was really encouraging to see how books had come to influence life and how much people cared for them. It was very similar to the love of books that was expressed in the full novel.

Writer’s Takeaway: I feel writers are often asked to continue with characters in the form of a sequel or companion novel because publishers know it will sell. I think this is one of those instances but I think Sloan handled it well and in a different way from what was expected. He gave his readers a short insight into Ajax Penumbra without muddling the main novel’s plotline and by giving us just a taste of the mysterious character we’d grown to love in the novel.

A really enjoyable short jaunt down memory lane. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan | One Book Two
Ajax Penumbra 1969 | Raging Bibliohlism
Ajax Penumbra, 1969- Robin Sloan | Track of Words

Advertisements

2015 Reading Year End Review: Top 10 Reads

4 Jan

I did this last year and it was so fun I decided to do it again! I read some amazing books in 2015 but I thought about it and I picked my top 10! I’ll list them here for you to ponder and disagree with. I listed age/gender recommendations for them if you’re thinking of getting a gift or tackling one yourself. Again, this is all opinion, but these are my favorites.

10. Waiting to be Heard by Amanda Knox. I’m a sucker for memoirs and with the Amanda Knox trial popping into and out of the news, I wanted to hear what she had to say. I went to study abroad in Spain soon after the Knox trial broke so I’ve always thought of it as a ‘What If’ to my life. Knox is a great writer and her story is so twisted it’s hard not to be engrossed. I recommend it for anyone 18+.

9. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. This is the second  year Flynn comes in at #9 on my list. Weird. I liked Gone Girl so I had some expectations of what Dark Places would be like. I was not disappointed. I liked the unlikable Libby and even though I TOTALLY CALLED the ending, I was engrossed the whole time. I recommend it for anyone over 18 though I think women would enjoy it more.

8. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. My second Stegner book and, again, I’m not disappointed. He has a mastery of the English language I can only hope to imitate. The story is basic, two couples going through their young adult years together, but we grow to love them beyond reason. I recommend this book for men and women over 20.

7. The Round House by Louise Erdrich. How a grown woman can write like a boy and do it this well is beyond me. The character is able to look back on his youth and it allows the book to transcend age and cover adult problems from a child’s perspective. I thought Erdrich did this wonderfully. I recommend it for readers 16+ and think men especially would enjoy it.

6. Bird Box by Josh Malerman. I’m not being biased toward Michigan authors, but this is only the first on the list. Malerman wrote an amazing horror story. It’s a genre I don’t read often (if ever) but thank God for book clubs! I loved this book and finishing it in a dark tent while I wanted for my husband added to the creepy factor for a delicious effect. I recommend the book to readers 16+

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. This is Rowell’s second year on my list as well. I’ve read a lot of Rowell’s books and what I absolutely love about them is that the characters are frighteningly real. I could swear parts of Eleanor’s life were from my adolescence and other parts from my friend’s. Her books address real issues in a startling light and I’m so glad there’s an author in our time who can talk about the things Rowell addresses, in this case, abuse. I recommend this book for female readers 16+.

4. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. The setting of this book alone sold me. 1920s? I’m in. Add into that a great fairy tale retelling and a strong female protagonist. I loved the 12 sisters, their bond, and their devotion to each other. I recommend this book to women 16+.

3. The Martian by Andy Weir. I’m sure this book will be on a lot of ‘top books’ lists and it deserves it. Weir told a great story with a main character who’s completely alone and wins us over with his voice alone. Amazing. Watney is someone I want to be friends with or, at least, share a beer with. He’s a very three-dimensional and I think America fell in love with him. I recommend the book for any reader over 16.

2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I knew this book would end up on this list when I couldn’t get a single thing done until I finished it. I was blown away by the characters and how much Mandel had thought through the world they were living in. The society was very realistic and it was frighteningly easy to picture. I recommend it for readers over 16 though I think women are more likely to enjoy it.

 

AND my #1 book of 2015

Penumbra1. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. This was the best audiobook choice I’ve made, hands down. We had an eight-hour each way drive to Southern Indiana and it was a breeze with this book to listen to. Sloan is my second Michigan author on this list, by the way. I loved the puzzle Sloan put together in this book and the way that we found out the mystery plus the characters we meet along the way. I’m smiling think about it. I recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it yet, especially men 16-35.

What were your favorite books of 2015? Are you surprised by anything on my list? I hope to find an equally good crop in 2016 to fill out another great list. If you want to check out last year’s list, click here. Have a great year and happy reading!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 15-July-2015

15 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Invisible BridgeCurrently reading:  My hold on Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell came in! I hope to get some reading done on this one. I’ve had a lot more ebook time lately because I’m in physical therapy for runners knee and between waiting in the lobby to be called back and doing warm up on a recumbent bike, I get a few pages in each day.
Consequently, I’m letting my hold on I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai expire for now. When I finish Atlas, I hope to pick this backup.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins is going well. I’m beyond the point of the first movie and this is the part I don’t remember too well. It’s getting excited. I’ve set aside my PT exercise time as Mockingjay time.
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer is going slowly. As I feared, with my new commute, I don’t get as much audiobook time. I’m on the third CD of 22. I hope I can renew this one a few times!
I’m really enjoying Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge. I love the Titanic so the setting has me really excited. I forgot how much her writing style makes for a quick read and I’m plowing through it. Hope to have this one finished next week.

HotelRecently finished: I cried while finishing Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. The ending was a huge heartbreaker for me and I really loved it. Though I was reminded a bit of The Orphan Train with the ending and kind of saw it coming. Oh well, still a good story.

A couple of reviews for you to check out as well. The first is A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. The long journey through the first book is finally over!
The second is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan. This was my favorite book of June and I highly recommend it!

Crossing to SafetyReading Next: I should get my copy of A Widow for One Year by John Irving next week so that’s forthcoming. There are a few other possibilities, though. My next book club selections are Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner and The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. I might jump on those early if I get a chance so I’m not stopping midbook to read one of them later this month. You have to plan ahead as a bookworm!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (5/5)

14 Jul

I’m always hesitant of books about books. Among the uber-bibliophiles, these seem to be popular and I think we’re being duped into liking them. But when I heard Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a mystery, I was interested. It would be the perfect book for my husband and I to listen to while we drove to Southern Indiana for a wedding. He agrees, great choice.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

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

Summary from Goodreads:

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 bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

Wow. Wowwowwowwow. I don’t give out 5 stars very often. The last time I did was for J.K. Rowling’s Very Good Lives and before that, Louise Erdrich’s The Round House. I’m proud to list this book among their ranks. With the bookstore title, I thought this book would be a bit old-timey. And while Mr. Penumbra was, Clay and Kat were not. The merge of modern and antiquated was really great and helped move the plot along really well. I cannot recommend this one enough. I even recommended it to someone three disks in.

Clay was a bit flat, but I thought the other characters were very realistic. Kat reminded me of a lot of techie friends I have (and a bit of the guys from The Big Bang Theory) and I loved how much she knew about computer resources. I’ve known people who undertake big projects like Matt and I loved how detailed his project was. Neil was every dream’s nerd of their future and I thought he was very well-developed. The cast of characters was awesome.

Kat was easily my favorite. Though I didn’t appreciate her little tantrum after the Google effort. Anyway. I liked that she was a strong and smart woman and that she wasn’t embarrassed by that.  She’s very independent. I see myself in a similar way and she reminded me of what I would want to be like if I were a computer engineer.

Besides the fact we’ve both worked in bookstores, I didn’t find myself relating to Clay very much. He was on a quest and I’ve never been lucky enough to be a part of one. I’m not in contact with my childhood friends any more and I’ve never flow across the country to learn about a secret cult. I wish my life could be more like Clay’s, but I’ll keep it for now.

Robin Sloan Image via BookRiot

Robin Sloan
Image via BookRiot

The scenes at Google were my favorite. The setting was very well described and I could visualize it really well. I liked all the little things that were different from an office I’ve worked in and how passionate people, especially Kat, were about their jobs there. Google has created really new ideas of an office with their headquarters and I’m interested to see what catches on for non-tech companies.

There wasn’t a part of the book I particularly disliked, but I’ll say that I thought the relationship between Matt and Ashley wasn’t relevant to the plot. Actually, I think Ashley could have been taken out completely because Matt was the important person in the plot. That kind of bothered me.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Ari Fliakos. He did a good job with it and brought Clay’s sarcasm to light well. His voices for the other characters were distinct enough for me to keep them apart and he did a good job with Kat’s voice. It always seems hard for male narrators to do a woman’s voice, but he was fine. I really liked that Sloan narrated the audiobook-withing-the-audiobook portion. That was really cool.

The broken spine was persistent. Clay had to be persistent to figure out the code. Kat gave up. The characters taught me a lot about persistence in this book and the benefits of hard work. Clay kept at computers and programming even while working at a book store. The broken spine believed for hundreds of years that a book could crack a secret to immortality. Matt got the cute, hyper-organized girl to like him despite being a bit of a pack-rat. The characters who kept trying got what they were after.

Writer’s Takeaway: The point of view and tense of this book were unusual. The majority of adult fiction is written in third person, though there are many exceptions. Though, most of those exceptions are written in past tense. Not this book! First person present is more often found in young adult, middle grade, and children’s fiction. It stuck out to me from the beginning, but not in a bad way. I really enjoyed the refreshing point of view. What was more interesting about it was that the epilogue was written in future tense. I really loved that. Sloan did something unusual with this book and I think it paid off well.

I want to add an extra love for Sloan that he grew up in Troy, Michigan which is my husband’s hometown and right next to my own. He also went to Michigan State, which is my husband’s alma mater. Go Green!

Really great read. I can’t recommend this one enough. Five out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan | prettybooks
Book Review: MR. PENUMBRA’S 24-HOUR BOOK STORE by Robin Sloan | Educating a Teacher and Coach

Challenge Update, June 2015

2 Jul

I’m overly confident of my reading speed at this point in the year. I’m kicking books to the ‘Read’ shelf as fast as I can. And that’s pretty darn fast. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in June:

La Sombra del Viento//Carlos Ruiz Zafon (4)
On the Okey Dokey Trail//I. Leigh Private (3)
A Game of Thrones//George R.R. Martin (4)
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore//Robin Sloan (5)
Wuthering Bites//Sarah Gray (3)

Reviews for the final ones are forthcoming. My posts at this point are planned out very far ahead because I’ve had so much to say!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

9/13
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline will track all of my books and show which time period they fall into. Wuthering Bites filled in the 1700s for me (yay) so there’s progress! I’ve got plans for the rest of the time periods (yay planning). I’ll fill them in between book club reads and I should be fine finishing by the end of the year.

Goodreads Challenge

27/50

Three books ahead! I’m doing great and with the half-way point of the year past, I feel confident. Plus, I already finished my Spanish book for the year so I’m hoping my pace picks up. Let’s do this!

Book of the Month

I thought it would be fun to pick my favorite book for each month reading and feature it. For June, it has to be Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It was a great read and I really recommend it to everyone!

Added to my TBR

I’ve stopped posting about books I add but I thought it would be fun to wrap these up once a month and talk about them.What a perfect time! I realize this list gets longer faster than I read so we can see the perpetual problem I have.  All links lead to Goodreads.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re doing better than me! If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 24-June-2015

24 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


BitesCurrently reading:  No progress on Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. It was starting to get good and I lost my hold on the ebook. I’ll get it back soon, though!
My only audiobook now is Harry, a History by Melissa Anelli so I’m making some decent progress. It’s a long one, though, so it could be a while. I’m loving the re-living of my Potterhead heydays.
I grabbed a random book off my shelves. A few years ago, my husband was at a book exchange and decided he needed to grab me a copy of Wuthering Bites by Sarah Gray. I hated Wuthering Heights when I read it in high school but husband insisted it’s because I was too young and it would be better with vampires. So far, he’s right.
I also started another ebook while I wait for Cloud Atlas to come back (because I’m impatient). I choose I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I know it’s been out for a while, but I’m really excited to read this.

PenumbraRecently finished: So many finished! I got through On the Okey Dokey Trail by I. Leigh Private after posting this last week. It was okay: enjoyable for sure.
I also finished up A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin on Thursday. I really liked it and put the sequel on my TBR right away.
ALSO! We went on a road trip over the weekend and got through the entire audiobook of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It was awesome. I can’t wait to write the review for this great book. The audiobook is highly recommended.

HotelReading Next: The John Irving book may still be on, but not immediately. I still plan to go after Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford next. This will likely go with me on vacation in a week. It looks like a good one to read by the campfire.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!