Month: November 2012

2012 Book #29: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

penumbra.jpgMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is another departure from my usual reading habits. But it’s about books! you say. Yes, but it’s also a thriller, of sorts, in a bestseller-y sort of way. And I absolutely loved it.

It’s about a bookstore clerk named Clay Jannon, who notices strange patterns as he works: people occasionally wander into the bookstore to buy books from the front. Much more often, regular patrons come in and ask for a specific text, written in code, and returning another book in exchange for it. Clay becomes curious and makes a 3D model of the store on his computer, eventually keeping track of who checks out what. Enthralled by the visual pattern, he enlists the help of a Google employee who uses their vast computer network to analyze the pattern. Then Things Get Interesting.

This novel isn’t really what I expected. In fact, when I wasn’t even halfway through, I gave a copy to a coworker. Then it got pretty technical (Google scanning, etc), and I was like, Oh noes! It’s too technical! She won’t like it! Which, according to her, wasn’t the case, but she was probably just being nice.

Which doesn’t mean that Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore isn’t awesome. ‘Cause it is. It’s just for people interested in books and technology, or at least people who like books and aren’t entirely technologically illiterate. It was definitely a fun read, and I’ll look forward to more from Robin Sloan in the future.

2012 Book #28: Who Could That Be at This Hour?

snicketwho.jpgI think I bought Who Could That Be at This Hour because I liked the cover. (In my defense, that’s worked out for me several times in the past.) Lemony Snicket‘s name on the front didn’t hurt, either, though I only got through the first couple books in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Not that they weren’t good enough – I think I was just a bit too old for them. Which is, again, the problem.

So what that boils down to is Who Could That Be at This Hour isn’t a bad children’s book. If I was a lot younger, I’d be all over this new series of four. The same would probably go for A Series of Unfortunate Events. But alas.

This one is a mystery. I guess you could probably figure that out just by looking at the cover. It’s about a kid who Lemony Snicket named after himself (okay, after his own fictional name). Said kid is an apprentice in a company that isn’t explained thoroughly, but that attempts to return stolen items to their rightful owners – or those who claim to be the rightful owners. And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot.

Because if you’re reading my blog, you’re probably not going to read Who Could That Be at This Hour because I’d put money on your being too old to enjoy it. Or, for the high school (and possibly college) students who like to try to cheat on homework and essays by gleaning information from my blog (which probably doesn’t help much, if at all), your teacher probably didn’t assign this one.

If, however, you’re a parent of a 7-10 year old kid, by all means pick up a copy. The kid will probably love it. After I finished reading it, I thought I might even be interested enough to read the rest of them to find out what happens, but I’ve already forgotten what happened in this one, which is the real reason I provided no real summary. So: get this book for your kid, but don’t try to read it yourself. The End.

2012 Book #27: Skylark

Skylark.jpgI ran across Skylark in a post on one of my favorite book blogs, Literary Trashcan. (Okay, it’s really just a Tumblr in which this guy posts books, art, etc, that he finds interesting. I guess I think it’s interesting, too.) It’s a short Hungarian novel by Desző Kosztolányi, whose name I had to copy and paste and couldn’t pronounce if my life depended on it. But that’s neither here nor there.

It’s about two older parents and their 30ish-year-old spinster daughter, Skylark, who lives with them and takes care of them. They adore her and let her run the house. A family member invites them to his house in the country, and only Skylark goes, leaving her parents to fend for themselves for a week. At first, they miss Skylark terribly and appreciate all of the things she does for them. Then, eating out instead of eating Skylark’s cooking, they begin to rejoin their social circle at restaurants. They discover that life without Skylark isn’t so bad, after all, and that they can have lives of their own that aren’t totally overrun by her world.

Oh, I loved this book. It’s another one that I enjoyed the act of reading. The translation is beautiful and readable, and it’s a good book. I don’t really have much to say about it beyond that, but you should definitely check it out. It’s well worth your time.

2012 Book #26: 12.21

1221.jpg12.21isn’t my usual kind of book: it’s the bestseller-y, Da Vinci Code type. (That said, I liked The Da Vinci Code.) I usually stick with established novels – or, at least, established authors. 12.21 kept popping up on my radar, and I’d just read Hard Times and was in the mood for something lighter. And lighter it is, though it’s not what I expected. Which was hardcore disaster fun. Like The World Is Ending! California Is Falling into the Ocean! Run! Except it’s not, and I’m not sure that I’m not just a little disappointed.

It’s about a major pandemic. Some kind of virus is going around that causes insomnia. After a few days, those affected go crazy for lack of sleep. There are all kinds of theories about how it spreads, but they finally figure out that it’s airborne. Then, to find the cause! Which ties into the whole The World Is Ending on 12/21/12! because The Mayan Calendar Is Over, and We Don’t Know What That Means! thing. So some characters head down to South America to find out what’s going on. Then, Things Continue to Happen.

I must admit that I was skeptical, simply because this is the bestseller thriller type, and I never think I’ll like those. In fact, The Da Vinci Code might be the only one I’ve read, so maybe I shouldn’t be so biased against them. Anyway, 12.21 is a good read if you’re looking for something light and fun. I read through it really quickly, as I had a really hard time putting it down. If nothing else, you’ll be entertained for a few hours.

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