Thursday, May 30, 2013

This Month In Fiction

Obviously this isn't including the other books I reviewed in separate posts this month.  I'm going to try lumping them together for a little while to see how I like it.

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

First of all, the cover glows in the dark, so this book has already won.  But the insides are just as wonderful, which is why this book has skyrocketed to the top of my wishlist.

Clay Jannon gets a job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and discovers that the three-story tall shelves are holding more than just your typical books.  He starts involving his multi-talented friends as he learns more and more about the possible secret society that borrows the coded books from the highest shelves.

Listen, I love anything with a secret society in it.  I've been waiting to be invited into a secret society my entire life, and I feel that literature like this is only helping me to prepare for when that inevitably happens.  That being said, Sloan is pretty obvious in his quest to bridge the gap between the lovers of paper books and the growing e-reader population.  There were a couple of times where I felt like saying, "Yes, I get it.  Progress and all that.  I already bought a Nook, so I get it."  But for all the insistence that technology is moving forward and that we should move with it, there was just as much (I thought) praise for the old-fashioned way of doing things.  And, you know, maybe we can all live in this world together and hold hands.

Favorite Quotes

At first I thought I had a crush on her, but then I realized she's an android.

So I guess you could say Neel owes me a few favors, except that so many favors have passed between us now that they are no longer distinguishable as individual acts, just a bright haze of loyalty.  Our friendship is a nebula.

"Yep.  Shadows and book smell, we've got it all."

That's just a feeling, not a fact, but remember (I repeat): people believe weirder things than this.

Over by Tabitha, the yarn has come out.  First-graders are digging through wide plastic containers, looking for their favorite colors.  One of them falls in and shrieks, and her two friends start poking her with needles.

Read more reviews about this book on LibraryThing.

The Lullaby of Polish Girls
by Dagmara Dominszyk

Disclaimer:  I received a free advanced copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

Anna, Kamila and Justyna become best friends in the early 90's when Anna visits her grandmother in Kielce, Poland for the first time since moving to America as a young girl.  Despite having better opportunities in America, Kielce is home to Anna, and she comes back every chance she gets.

Throughout their teen years, the girls remain extremely close, picking up where they left off every time Anna comes back.  But as they grow older, and real life gets in the way, their friendship falls apart.  It takes the murder of Justyna's husband to make all three women realize how important their relationship was.

Even though this novel starts out with a murder, it's NOT a mystery.  It's about the girls and their similar needs of romantic fulfillment.  All three characters have distinct personalities, and the story switches between perspectives, as well as between the past and the present.

The polish terms throughout the novel caused me to stumble occasionally, but the overall story made up for it.  The characters could have used a little more depth, but for a stand-alone novel, it wasn't bad.

You can read more reviews about this book on LibraryThing.

Agnes Grey
by Anne Bronte 

I read this as part of my Shelf By Shelf Project.  Do you remember that?  Because I barely do.

Anne Bronte must have been the boring sister, because this book was a DRAG.  I mean, Agnes was likeable enough, but she wasn't very interesting.  The novel is meant to be read as her diary, chronicling her early days as a governess for the worst children in England.  Honestly, if I found out that the little boy (Tom) that she had charge of in the first family she worked for turned out to be the Antichrist, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

The next family Anne works for has older children that, in my opinion, don't really need a governess anymore.  She doesn't appear to actually teach them much, and she winds up doing their homework for them when she DOES teach them.  She stays with them for a couple years, which is how she meets Mr. Weston.  I didn't realize he was the hero of the story at first because he was so nice, something a little unusual for a Bronte novel.

Not a bad novel.  But those kids should have been beaten.


  1. I read Penumbra a few months ago and had really high expectations that were unfortunately not met. I love the premise but I thought the writing just fell a little flat :/ But WHOA about the cover- didn't know!

    1. Yeah, I didn't know either until I was trying to fall asleep and kept noticing a light on my nightstand. I thought it was just my phone, but then it didn't go away. When I realized it was the book I giggled for awhile until my husband woke up and asked if I was crazy.