Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane

This book is now on my top 25 list. (I couldn't possibly narrow it down smaller than that!) That is saying a lot because I don't think there are many newly published books on that list.
















Why is this book so high on my list?

Because it is fabulous! The characters, the setting, and the plot are all compelling and fascinating. The author is not afraid to use tried and true plot devices, such as
the overly talented group of friends that her the main character into high places. It  might seem too unrealistic, but Sloan does it with such honesty that I was enchanted.

The main character, Clay, is not particularly talented and he knows that. He also has lots of talented friends, Neel, Mat, Kat, and more. They all come together to help solve a 500
year old riddle and save Mr. Penumbra. All of the very best things are in this book too. Eccentric people, a secret society, the very latest technology, and lots of books. Sloan does an amazing job of making the reader feel like he is in a fantasy world that really does exist. You feel like if you walked down the right street at the right time of day then you would see all of these people.

If you like fantasy, read this.
If you like books, read this.
If you are techy, read this.
If you like conspiracy stories, read this.
If you like secrect societies, read this.
If you are looking for something to sweep you off your feet, read this.

I quite honestly can't think of anyone who
shouldn't read this book. Go read it now!



Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My whole life had been explained! Or at least the fiction loving part of it. As a kid my two favorite characters were Jessica Fletcher and Scooby-Doo. It is safe to say that I enjoyed, and still do, the logical and observant detective. I have now discovered who that began with, Sherlock Holmes. And I am in love!



I found a free copy of this book when I got my Kindle a couple years ago. It was illustrated and I think that really added a lot to the reading. I read it slowly whenever I had a free moment for a quick story. I think it took me over a year to read it. Not because I didn't enjoy it. On the contrary, it was specifically because I enjoyed it. I read it slowly because I didn't want it to end. Thankfully, I recently found a complete collection of Sherlock Holmes stories for the Kindle. So I can enjoy him for a while.

One thing that I loved so much about this particular Sherlock Holmes book is that there are short stories. There is no large time commitment needed to enjoy a bit of mystery. I also think it is a wonderful introduction to a legendary character that we all know, but may not have read. *sheepishly raising my hand*

Recently I reread this book along with other people from Story Cartel. They wrote several blog posts to go with the book. I really enjoyed them because it really made the book become more alive and more relevant. It wasn't just fluff reading anymore. I was learning things about the book and character and I was learning things about other peopl e. I was applying various parts of the book to my life. It made the book much more enjoyable.


If you enjoy mysteries, get this book. Read it now. Read it often.
If you have read this book, go read it again. You can thank me later.
If the above situations don't pertain to you, get it anyway. You will enjoy it.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Slaves Have Names by Andi Cumbo-Floyd

 Photo Credit: Amazon

I first heard about this book project a few years ago from Shawn Smucker. I was super excited to hear that someone was researching the history of the slaves that lived and worked on her home. I couldn't wait to read this book. Of course I had to wait for the research to be "completed" and the book to be written. In November of 2013, the book was published. I got a copy of it, but didn't get around to reading it right away. I FINALLY started reading it early last week and finished it in less than a week. That is a pretty amazing record for me with 2 little ones around.

Based on the speed of my reading, you may be able to figure out some of my thoughts. I will pass my thoughts along anyway. This book is amazing! Andi Cumbo-Floyd is honest about the information that she finds and the information that she can't find. She is honest about her impressions of the people and their work on the plantation. She is honest about her feelings in the whole process. She presents all of those involved with integrity and as real people. The slave owners and the slaves themselves are both presented within the boundaries given to them by the society of the time. However, she doesn't give them a free pass either.

She doesn't pretend to understand all of the ramifications from slavery and segregation. She doesn't pretend to understand what it was like to live in a society that accepts slavery. However, she doesn't simply accept the facts written on paper as the only information to be had about these people. She provides an amazing balance between facts and inferences. She makes these bare facts transform into a fascinating story. I just can't say enough good things about this book.

Go get it and read it. You will be a better person for having read it.

The Slaves Have Names: Ancestors of My Home Paperback

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, Family and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon by Sophie Hudson

I'm pretty sure I first heard about this book from The Deliberate Reader, but it may have been Modern Mrs. Darcy. Or maybe it was both. Either way, I'm so glad I did hear about it!



I do not follow her blog, so her family and her writing style were completely new to me. I'm thinking I've been missing out. She is so funny. I found myself laughing aloud more than once while I was reading. Throughout various stories she introduces us to her family members and lets us in on family traditions. We are privy to funny family outings and events. She even shares several recipes with us as well. And most importantly, she doesn't take herself too seriously.

So this book is funny and poignant and all about family. It is so wonderful. I just can't express how much I enjoyed it.

DISCLAIMER: I did not receive a free copy of this book from anyone. I'm reviewing it because I thought you all might like to know about it.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Francis of Assisi: The Life by Augustine Thompson O.P.

Product Details

My Amazon Review:

This is a wonderful biography for so many reasons. It presents Francis as a real man who was trying to serve God. It shows us how he was revolutionary in his time as well as how he was a product of his time. it tells us how other biographers have presented events in order to show him for their cause. This one doesn't do that. It just shows us who he is and how he arrived there.

It is also easy to read. It could very easily become bogged down in details of people and places of Mideval times. This author does a great job of giving information without too many details. We find out what is necessary about a person or a place. One does not need to know anything about Francis previously nor does a person need to know anything about the time period. It is written so well that one does not even need to know much about the Catholic religion.

It is a fabulous unbiased biography of this man.

A couple more thoughts:

I love the fact that he did not call him St. Francis of Assisi. It really is a biography about him as a man and not this mythological saintly being. There are so many other places where he writes about the mythological interpretation of an event in Francis' life and he is quick to point out the most logical and reasonable explanation of the event.

The only negative I have to say about the book really isn't about the book. It's really about me. I thought this sounded like a great book to read and it was. However, I didn't particularly enjoy it. As I started reading it, I realized that I wasn't really a whole book's worth of interested. I was really just a Wikipedia article interested. However, I read the book anyway because I said I would and didn't hate the time I spent reading it or the book itself.

Francis of Assisi: The Life [Paperback]

Augustine Thompson O.P. 
$12.30
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (October 8, 2013)

DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are completely my own. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffett

Years ago I remember reading Where is Joe Merchant? and falling in love with it. I have to say that I don't remember specifics about the book, but the feeling I am left approximately 15 years after reading it is that it felt very Jimmy Buffett like. The characters and setting were both exotic. I don't remember anything about it feeling too grimy either.

I was hoping A Salty Piece of Land would be the same way. It was and it wasn't.
A Salty Piece of Land

The places and people were exotic and memorable. The plot seemed to float along at the whim of the tides. I loved that part of it! I didn't feel like I had to read it quickly or get to the next part too soon. I could just pick it up and read a little when I had the time. Then somewhere in the middle the main character got less interesting, the new characters were grimy, the plot felt yucky, and the whole thing got too wordy. I skimmed a few chapters and started to give up hope, but I wanted to finish it. And I'm glad I did. The story picked up again and the lovely characters returned.

There were times that it was too explicit. At other times too wordy. And at times too convenient. Normally those are thing that would make me put the book down and not care about finishing it. However the lovely characters and strong sense of place were enough to make me just skip those parts and continue. And the fact that I skipped them and didn't miss them says how unimportant they were to the overall plot. So you can skip those parts too and not miss anything.

Overall, not as good as Where Is Joe Merchant?, but still rather enjoyable.
_________________________________________________________________________________

A Salty Piece of Land Paperback – November 7, 2005



  • $14.95
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (November 7, 2005)

Amazon.com

DISCLAIMER: I just read this book for fun and was not asked to review it by anyone. I did receive a free copy from my aunt in law because she was passing it along. The opinions are completely my own.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My Father's House Part 2

Many of my initial impressions are still accurate.

My Father's House: In Search of a Lost PastAvailable at Amazon

Even though I did like the setting and his courage throughout the book, the search got a little long somewhere towards the end. I can't even put my finger on exactly what it was. And quite honestly, it might have been the fact that there were two books I was really excited about that were behind this one.
However Goodreads says that the book is 342 pages long and Amazon says approximately 362. The version I have is 422. I'm not sure what the difference is, but if a few things were cut out of it, that's probably a good thing. There were a couple times that the story got a little loose. It could have been tightened up and it seems to have been if those page numbers can be believed. If not, be prepared that there are times that it gets a bit wordy and I was a little unsure of what it had to do with the overall story.

DISCLAIMER:
I put a link to Amazon because it was easiest and not because I am in any way affiliated with Amazon. I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for a review from Story Cartel.