Litopia

Blogging about books since 2013


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Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness. –Helen Keller


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Someday Saturday…

One of my shortcomings is that I like to shop for books, to read about books, to devour information about books, almost as much as I like to read them. Because of this, my “Wanna Read” list is longer than I will ever finish.

Right now, I wanna read:

From the Publisher:

Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind…Reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind, Ordinary People and The Curious Incident of the Dogin the Night-time, Still Alice packs a powerful emotional punch and marks the arrival of a strong new voice in fiction.

From the Publisher:

When twenty-something Wall Street analyst Kate Wilson attracts the notice of the legendary Julian Laurence at a business meeting, no one’s more surprised than she is. Julian’s relentless energy and his extraordinary intellect electrify her, but she’s baffled by his sudden interest. Why would this handsome British billionaire—Manhattan’s most eligible bachelor—pursue a pretty but bookish young banker who hasn’t had a boyfriend since college?

The answer is beyond imagining . . . at least at first. Kate and Julian’s story may have begun not in the moneyed world of twenty-first-century Manhattan but in France during World War I, when a mysterious American woman emerged from the shadows of the Western Front to save the life of Captain Julian Laurence Ashford, a celebrated war poet and infantry officer.Now, in modern-day New York, Kate and Julian must protect themselves from the secrets of the past, and trust in a true love that transcends time and space.


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Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

 Four Stars

From the publisher:

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

I want to say that I really loved this kooky little book, but I only gave it four stars, so I can’t really say that.

Huh.

Well, how about this? I loved the characters in this kooky little book. I couldn’t wait to spend time with them, and I was sad when our time together came to a close. They were quirky, and eccentric, and a little nonsensical at times, and they felt authentic, and fully-realized, and I wish that they were real. I want to work at this bookstore. I want to live in this world.

I’d call this light urban fantasy. It’s a mystery set in a bookstore, where not everything is as it seems.  Throw in some secret societies and what one Amazon reviewer called a “nerdy heist.”

People who know me will know how nervous heists make me, nerdy or not. 🙂

But, in the end, it’s really more about character than plot, a point that kept it from getting five stars. Stuff happens to these people, but the stuff doesn’t always make complete sense, and the ending felt like a bit of a cheat. Not necessarily in a bad way, but still.

Highly recommend, though, because you really, really, really want to spend some time with these folks.