Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore was one that had been on my list for a long time. It was raining, so I settled in with it first. At first I was delighted. I liked Clay's initial descriptions of his situation and his roommates, and of course, the description of his finding a job at Mr. Penumbra's bookstore. The mystery charmed me. Initially. I read straight through, becoming less enchanted about half way through.
Although the characters had wonderful potential, they became stock characters to advance the plot. The plot...well, not even the plot really engaged me.
I wonder if there is a tipping point with books.... I know one reason I delayed reading this after putting it on my list several years ago had something to do with "too many" five star reviews. Sometimes, if I see a book with dozens of glowing reviews, I'm afraid I'll be disappointed.
Enough time had passed, however, that I thought I could give it a fair shake. And it started off so well! I even like Robin Sloan because of his descriptions of Clay's friends Matt and Neel. Those descriptions feel so genuine, as if he really knows these people--a testament of friendship--which is, I think, one of the themes of the book. After the first chapters, though, the friends are sublimated to a plot that didn't work well for me.
Maybe I was just not in the mood for this one. It has been so loved by so many readers that I was sorry not to belong to the group of admirers. It certainly won plenty of honors.
A Winner of the Alex Award, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle
Fantasy. 2013. 288 pages.
On to the next in my library bag.
The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid. I've enjoyed so many of McDermid's books that I felt this stand-alone would make up for my disappointment with Mr. Penumbra. Alas.
The premise was interesting. I love books about lost manuscripts, love Wordsworth, and have always found The Bounty mutiny fascinating.
I plodded through the entire thing, wondering why I didn't just add it to the DNF pile. But it was Val McDermid!
To save time, I'm going to direct you to Sam's review. He gives an excellent synopsis of the plot.
McDermid's books have never before failed to engage me. This one has plenty of murders, and yet is not as dark as most of McDermid's books. Looking at Goodread reviews, I notice that many that have not read McDermid's books before liked the novel much more than those who have followed her books over the years. Interesting.
Two books in two days that failed me. That doesn't mean that either book will fail you! Both books have as many or more positive reviews than negative ones.
I've enjoyed a couple of McDermid's Karen Pirie series, but my favorite is the Wire in the Blood series. McDermid also has a couple of series that I haven't read. Here is a list of her books, both series and stand alones. Has anyone read any of the Kate Brannigan or Lindsay Gordon books?
Crime/Mystery. 2007. 400 pages.