Friday, February 22, 2013

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is utterly charming. I sat down and read it in one enjoyable sitting. I wasn't completely happy with the ending. I wanted more. I wasn't ready to leave the bookstore.

Clay Jannon is desperate for a job. Any job. While out for a walk in the wilds of San Francisco, he sees a help wanted sign in a bookstore next to a strip club. Minutes later he is the new night clerk. It doesn't take long before Clay realizes something very strange is going on. The store is partly a book store and partly a members only lending library. The books being lent are all in code. It turns out that the owner of the story, Mr. Penumbra, and the library patrons are members of a strange cult trying to solve a mystery.

Some of the characters in the book are a little over the top. It's also convenient that Clay's best friend is a multimillionaire. It's also convenient that Clay's love interest works at Google. Without that he wouldn't be able to solve the mystery. I do wonder what she was doing in the bookstore's part of town when she never actually appears there again. 

As I said, I didn't like the ending. I wanted Clay to get the girl, get the bookstore and have a great life.  The mystery gets solved but the answer is not what anyone expects. It's actually kind of depressing. Even so, the story was enjoyable.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Venice Conspiracy

The Venice Conspiracy by Sam Christer is your typical thriller. If you like Dan Brown you'll probably like this book.

Ex-priest with mad martial arts skills, Tom Shaman (!), visits Venice only to become involved in a murder investigation. The murder is tied in with a cult. The book switches between modern day, 666(!) BC(E) and 1778. It's an interesting story and well written. It's well worth the time

As you can probably tell, I have a few nitpicks. Of all the names available why call a Catholic priest shaman? As a pagan interested in shamanism this irked me. Another name nitpick is three names that start with the letter T in the 666 part of the book. There are 26 letters to choose from. Stretch a little.

If you haven't guessed, the cult in the book is Satanic. Pretty obvious when the story starts in the year 666. I was also surprised that a book published in 2010 still used BC when BCE (Before Common Era) has become the norm. I guess it's in keeping with the religious overtones of the book but I noticed it. I had to keep myself from getting a pen and adding the "E".

I received a review copy of this book.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Moon Hoax

Moon Hoax by Paul Gillebaard is a thriller about an attempt by the Chinese to prove that the US never went to the moon.

I wanted to like this book. I was all primed with the Mar Curiosity landing. It's not that it's a bad book. It is well written. I just found it overly manipulative in places and that pissed me off.

China secretly lands on the dark side of the moon and collects rocks. Then it says they found the rocks in China which proves the US did not go to the moon. In addition they left a laser to guard the moon which could be turned into a weapon used on Earth.

The central character, Peter Novak, is a  geek/astronaut/spy (?) who is picked to secretly go to the moon and take out the laser he helped build. Oh, and by the way, it's a one way trip. Novak's father walked on the moon. When the world starts saying the US lied about going to the moon he has a heart attack and dies. Novak wants to do the job to clear his father's name. See what I mean about overly manipulative? The elder Novak didn't have to die. It was just an extra kick at the emotional can. I hate it when it's too obvious. But that's just me.

That's all I'm going to tell you. If you want to know how it all works out you'll have to read the book yourself. Maybe you'll like it better than I did.

I received a review copy of this book.