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

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

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

I first heard of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan when it was announced as a 2013 Alex Award winner. The Alex Awards are for books written for adults that are deemed to have appeal for teen readers. Since I myself am an adult who works with teens, I like to check out Alex Award books when I can, and when I happened to see the audiobook version of Mr. Penumbra was checked in right before I left on a trip, I decided to check it out. I’m definitely glad I did!

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a story for people who love books, but also for people who love the internet. It’s a book for people who love puzzles, and figuring stuff out. It’s a book for everyone who grew up looking for a secret door into Narnia or waiting for their letter from Hogwarts. It’s the story of Clay Jannon, who lost his graphic designer job and ended up working the night shift at the titular bookstore. The bookstore has very few customers, and Clay can’t understand how it stays in business at all. With his free time he starts poking around and discovers that the bookstore is much more than it appears to be on the surface, and he and his friends get caught up in an exciting international secret society.

This really works as an audiobook because it’s so fast-paced. Also, the book’s author makes a cameo in it as the narrator of the audiobook-within-an-audiobook, which is a fun addition.

I agree with the Alex committee; I think this would be a great book for adults and teens alike. (Note: There is some mild adult language, and a glossed-over description of 2 adults in a relationship. Still, if this were a movie, I personally think it would be PG-13.)

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The Absolutely true Diary of a part time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I read this book for the book discussion group. It probably would not have caught my eye if I hadn’t needed to read it. I enjoyed the book though. I think it gave an honest account of what it is like for a Native American to live on the Reservation but go to school outside of the Res. at a “white” school. He goes to a “white” school because a teacher encouraged him. This teacher and the character had actually had an altercation when the student saw his mother’s name in the book. He realized that they were using old books for the classroom and threw the book at the teacher breaking his nose. The teacher came to his home and said that he was sorry that they have material that is old, and out of date. When Junior (the student) first saw the teacher approaching, he thought that the teacher was going to punch him in the face. He was totally surprised by the teacher’s remarks. The more he thought about what the teacher said, the more he realized that he needed to take the chance. His parents were confused at first, but they supported him. He asked them, “Who has the most hope?” They both answered at the same time –“White people.” He chose to go where he had the best chance of getting a good education. I said that I thought the author gave a true representation of a Native American experience because I had a roommate in college that had lived with a family during the school year and lived with her Navajo family during the summer. The author’s depiction of life on the reservation is similar to what my roommate would tell me. There is more than the average alcohol consumption, tragedies from early deaths, and a general hopelessness. I think the book had a hopeful feel to it though. Junior was doing what was best for him, and he had a hard time at first, but the kids at the school got used to him and befriended him. His closest friend from the reservation has a hard time adjusting because he feels abandoned by Junior. It’s a good book that I highly recommend.

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One Deadly Night by John Glatt

I had read this book before, but since the trial was getting started, I wanted to read it again. The book is a little heavy with his view of what happened and his family’s since the Renn family did not communicate with the author. To get their quotes he used articles from the paper and court documents. The author showed what made police focus on Camm to begin with. It was during an interview and when he was having a test done at the hospital that made Camm look guilty to the officers. During one of his interviews, he said to one of the interviewers, “If that expert puts me in jail, I’ll kill you.” After that remark the detective sent his family to stay with his in-laws for a while. While Camm was at the hospital, he said, “I guess this is what happens when you kill your wife.” Later, he attributed those statements to stress. The author does a fair job of telling the story. The epilogue tells the story of the Charles Boney and how he was found guilty of killing the family. I recommend it for people who like true crime and who want to know about the Camm murders.

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Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

First, let me say that I in no way count myself among the multitudes of Stephen King fans. However, when I heard he was writing a story to continue the life of young Danny in The Shining, I was definitely intrigued.
The story begins with Danny Torrance, now an adult, struggling to come to terms with (no surprise) addiction and depression. His parents are dead and he finds himself untethered from a stable environment and any permanent relationships. Luckily, he still possesses a modicum of the “shining” he once had as a small child. He finds he is able to help people as they linger in the doorway between life and death- hence his nickname…Doctor Sleep. This ability allows him to settle down enough to finally get a grip on his addiction to alcohol and create a small family unit knitted together from the people around him who believe he is worthy of their affection.
Along comes Abra. Abra is a young girl who possesses a large amount of “the shining.” As Danny describes it, “I am a flashlight and she is a lighthouse.” This rare ability causes Abra to surface on the radar of a band of paranormal parasites calling themselves, The True Knot. It is their sole mission to find children with the shining ability and kill them to take away their “steam” which reinvigorates them, much like vampires use human blood. Abra connects telepathically with Danny and together they set out to “untie” the True Knot.
The story is quite a page-turner, as are all Stephen King novels. Whether you are an avid fan or just curious (as I was) about the rest of young Danny’s life, I think you will find Doctor Sleep to have the excitement and creepy chills to keep you up at night reading to the end. My only disappointment in the novel is that it reads, in my opinion, like two separate novellas. Danny’s story is linked to Abra’s, but when Abra comes into the picture, Danny’s story recedes to the background. I guess I was hoping for more of Danny’s personal development…
…see what you think by reading Doctor Sleep by Stephen King.

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