Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Written by Robin Sloan
Published September 26, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre/Topics: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Books, Technology
Three Word Book Review: Fun, Humorous, Mysterious
Clay Jannon recently lost his job as a web designer for NewBagel Company. He’s searched online for jobs with no luck until he stumbles upon a simple help wanted sign outside Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. It actually is open 24 hours and Jannon works the night shift when hardly anyone enters the bookstore. However, Jannon begins to notice something strange because the individuals who do enter don’t exactly buy the books instead they trade books after giving him unique cards with codes. These individuals and books are so unique that Mr. Penumbra tells Jannon that he cannot read them and must keep a detail log of each individual down to their coat buttons. Jannon is now very curious and attempts to uncover the truth with his friends and technology. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a fun book that makes you think about how today’s technology with ebooks mixes with paper books. Which book version will you read the book in?
13, rue Thérèse
Written by Elena Mauli Shapiro
Published by Little, Brown and Company on February 2, 2011
Genre/ Topics: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Time Travel, France
I have never read such a unique book. Trevor Stratton is an American professor who teaches in Paris. He discovers a box that contains a mixture of objects, such as letters, photos, gloves, and even a scarf. The owner of the box and objects is Louise Brunet who lives in Paris, through both world wars. It is somewhat a mystery how the objects connect and fully describe her life. Trevor keeps the box a secret and attempts to understand Louise better. Some things he’s able to piece together from the objects is that Louise had a love for a cousin, a marriage to a dependable man, and a passionate attraction to her neighbor. However, Stratton almost sets his imagination free and fills in the empty spots to create her full life. What made this book so unique is that there are actual photographs of each object. It felt as though I discovered the objects with Trevor. 13, rue Thérèse refers to the building where she lives. The book reminded me slightly of The Time Traveller’s Wife, because the book moves past to present and the reader gets both Trevor’s and Louise’s viewpoint.
The author actually found these items in a box that belonged to a real Louise Brunt. However, that is where the similarities differ because the Louise in the book is completely fictionally. In the back of the book, the reader is able to scan QR codes to discover more information and details about the objects. At times I was confused while reading the book, but the reader should just go with it. I love books that contain letters and illustrations, so this was quite an enjoyable book.
The Shadow of the Wind
Written by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Translated by Lucia Graves
Published February 1, 2005 by Penguin
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
I just finished reading The Shadow of the Wind for the second time and I almost forgot how wonderful the book is. The book’s first sentence hooked me: I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. In 1945, Daniel Sempere is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in Barcelona, Spain. He is only ten, but his life will forever change. Daniel was raised among books, since his own father is a book seller. He cannot tell anyone the secrets within the walls of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. His father tells him to pick a book to protect as his own. Daniel moves through the maze of bookshelves until he picks his book: The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. That night Daniel falls in love with the book and desires to read more books by the author. However, Daniel cannot read anymore books written by Carax, because someone has been trying to remove the books from existence. This leads Daniel onto a literary quest to discover more about Julián Carax and why his books have suddenly disappeared.
The Shadow of the Wind is almost magical as your curiosity increases with thrills, scandals, rumors, passion, and suspense. I highly recommend this book. Carlos Ruiz Zafón wrote a sequel,The Angel’s Game, that unfortunately I didn’t think matched The Shadow of the Wind. However, you’ll find reappearing characters and the story somewhat continues.
This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens…In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader’s hands. In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Shadow of the Wind, pages 5-6)
The Christmas Wish
by Richard Siddoway
Fiction, 203 pages
Will Martin lost his parents at age four due to a car accident and his grandparents raised him as their own in a small town. When Will’s grandfather died he left his busy life in New York City and returned home to manage his grandfather’s business that lacked technology and where a firm handshake was worth a signature. His grandparents wrote in journals every year that they didn’t share until death. His grandmother tells Will that she’s been reading the journals and discovered that when Will and her went on their traditional shopping trip on Christmas Eve, her husband secretly saw a woman named Lillian. His grandmother’s Christmas wish is to discover who Lillian is and why her devoted husband never mentioned the name. Will learned more about his grandfather from others in town as he attempts to discover information about Lillian. Will also grew as a person as he respects the business, town, and realizes who the real Will is.
The Christmas Wish was a fast read with a wholesome and inspiring message. It had a Hallmark or Lifetime movie feeling and my prediction was correct after reading other book reviews. I never saw the movie version, but I’m sure it’s a nice Christmas ‘feel good’ movie. The mystery of who Lillian is may be easy to guess after a while, but it’s still a meaningful book.