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  4. Mr. Penumbra's Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Inhabited for thousands of years, both islands have maintained a local identity and character due to the strong will of the people and a wild interior that no foreign king could ever properly tame. Shepherds, sailors, pirates, and farmers settled in deep, inaccessible canyons, high on rocky cliffs, or in the middle of isolated plains in circular, easily defensible dwellings.

During our hikes we will seek out the remnants of ancient societies and worship systems that were created and lost over thousands of years. The leaders will make every reasonable effort to meet the goals outlined in the itinerary. Please keep in mind that weather or other conditions beyond our control may cause us to modify the itinerary in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the group.

Mileage and elevation gain are approximate and may be adjusted based on the fitness level and experience of group members. We meet in Cagliari mid-morning and then start our day with two of the most important ancient ruins on the island of Sardinia. The use of these beehive-like, pre-Christian buildings still remains unknown, but most archaeologists agree they were used as religious temples. The second site of the day will be the ancient spring of Su Tempiesu. After a lovely picnic lunch here, we continue north to the Gulf of Orosei, one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.

Comprised of a series of beaches, small inlets, cliffs, and rocky pinnacles that rise steeply out of the sea, the coastline here is so wild we will visit it by boat. Overnight in Cala Gonone. Today we enjoy a scenic hike to Cala Luna, one of the most beautiful coves on the island. Centuries-old junipers bent by the wind dot the steep limestone walls and beautiful oleander and elder groves extend down to the beach. The bays in Sardinia are often outlets to the sea for narrow gorges that the locals call codule.

We will make our way back by boat, stopping en route to explore a few amazing sea caves. This morning we make our way into the wild Supramonte -- a vast mountain region full of woods and lunar landscapes. The entire Supramonte massif is made up of limestone rocks that date back million years to the Jurassic period. If trail maintenance permits, we will hike to Tiscali, a 4th-century BC village built inside a majestic Karst hollow. It is believed that Tiscali was one of the last bastions of ancient Sardinian resistance to the brutal invasion of the Romans.

Tonight we may be lucky enough to enjoy sweet and sour wild boar roasted in front of the fire -- one of the local specialties. This morning we enjoy a lovely drive north to the port town of Palau where we stage our exploration of the Maddalena Archipelago. Created in to protect the local flora and fauna, La Maddalena National Park is home to all kinds of birdlife, including the Kestrel, the Peregrine falcon, the Common Buzzard, and sea birds such as the European Shag, the Cory's Shearwater, and the Manx Shearwater.

Overnight in La Maddalena. This morning we continue north to Santa Teresa de Gallura, where we catch a minute ferry to the amazing Corsican city of Bonifacio. The cliffs around Bonifacio have been undercut by the ocean so that the city now sits on the very lip of a precipice -- an amazing sight that will allow for a wonderful hike. Overnight near Bonifacio. Today we drive north into the famed mountains of Corsica, where we enjoy two relaxing nights in the mountain town of Corte.

Dominated by the Citadel perched on its rocky outcrop, Corte lies at the mouth of the Restonica and Tavignano valleys, an area that boasts stunning scenery and fantastic hikes. Overnight in Corte. Going off the beaten path, we visit the wildest and most sparsely populated region of the island. Near the small settlement of Vizzavona we will have the opportunity to hike for awhile on the world-famous, cross-island GR20 trail.

After taking in the picturesque waterfalls of the Cascade des Anglais, we will enjoy lunch in an extremely rural community. At sunset the rocks take on fantastic shapes and colours -- the petrified creations of another world! Overnight in Porto. If weather and legal permits allow, we will go into the Scandola Nature Reserve.

Here we will find towering pinnacles and gnarled, claw-like outcrops of rock that were formed by volcanic eruptions million years ago. The colours of the rock vary from charcoal grey to incandescent reds and rusty purples, which strike a vivid contrast to the wild, green grasses and the cobalt blue of the sea. Dolphins and seals thrive here and colonies of giant gulls and cormorants inhabit the cliffs. We enjoy a scenic drive to the northern port town of Bastia where we catch an afternoon ferry journey to Genoa, the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and the ancient Maritime Queen of the Italian Riviera.

The trip ends with an overnight in Genoa. In the morning, the trip officially ends after breakfast. We say our goodbyes and return home with fond memories. We will meet at a. Cagliari is a short one-hour flight from Rome, or 1. Participants can overnight pre-trip in Rome or Milan, or in Cagliari. The trip will end with a farewell dinner and an overnight in Genoa, Italy on Day 11 Tuesday -- with departures on Day 12 Wednesday.

You can also easily catch a ferry to Marseille, where there is a very large international airport. We will be staying in charming small inns and hotels. Lodging is double-occupancy with private baths. Singles will be assigned a roommate. If the accommodations have a single room available and you prefer a single room, there will be an extra charge. You must inform the leader well in advance if you wish the single-supplement option. All meals are included except one dinner, when we will have the choice of exploring various restaurants at our own expense. The Slow Food Movement began in Italy, and we will enjoy locally grown, farm-fresh and fresh-caught food and local wines.

The beautiful but rugged terrain of Sardinia and Corsica's granite mountains are best suited for experienced hikers currently involved in regular hiking activities. The hikes will vary in rating, from one or two easy hikes to several moderately strenuous hikes. Agility is needed to negotiate rocky trails and climb over rocks without difficulty. Hike lengths are from approximately four to eight miles, with elevation changes from approximately feet to 2, feet.

Penumbra's Hour Bookstore Mr. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Penumbra's Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem.

Return to Book Page. Preview — Mr. Penumbra's Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they "check out" l The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they "check out" large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele's behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends, but when they bring their findings to Mr.

Penumbra, they discover the bookstore's secrets extend far beyond its walls. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published October 2nd by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. More Details Original Title. Penumbra's Hour Bookstore 1. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Mr. Penumbra's Hour Bookstore , please sign up.

I found this book cover glowing in the dark last night. Anyone else notice that the yellow books on the cover glow?? I thought I was hallucinating. But it really does glow. I could see my hand prints. Anne Matthews Yes, that was a pleasant surprise! I discovered the artist won an award for the phosphorescent cover. This question contains spoilers… view spoiler [I'm not quite sure how he leapt from the dwarf looking at the mountains to realising that the code breaker was along the notches in the font.. Or was it just a clue that he had to look in detail at the answer?

Sheila This answer contains spoilers… view spoiler [ It just occurred to me that Clay's leap was, in actuality, a flash of "intuition" - a purely human trait, something that a computer doesn't have. He …more It just occurred to me that Clay's leap was, in actuality, a flash of "intuition" - a purely human trait, something that a computer doesn't have.

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He took a bunch of loose associations and, in a moment of inspiration, was able to bring them together in his head. I'm not saying it's logical, but it seems to tie in with the point Sloan is trying to make. See all 25 questions about Mr. Penumbra's Hour Bookstore…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Penumbra's Hour Bookstore is one of those books that appears to have the perfect blend of ingredients for something brilliant. He soon realises that there is more to Mr. Penumbra's than meets the eye, and together with a group of his friends, he embarks on a mission to get to the bottom of the shop's real purpose.

Wha Mr. What follows is a fantastical series of events involving an international secret society and almost impossibly complex codes hidden inside a series of books. It's a collision of ancient mystery and very modern, internet-savvy characters. It really sounded like something I would love, and it was in fact a really enjoyable little story.

However, it's short - almost certainly far too short for all the ideas it tries to cram in - and at the end I realised it had been something of a letdown, for two main reasons. Firstly, I couldn't escape the nagging feeling that it was very familiar, that I'd almost read it before. It didn't take me long to realise that this was because the narrative voice reminded me so much of Ready Player One , a great adventure book which I read about a year ago.

If it wasn't for the fact that Ready Player One is set in the future, I could easily have believed that this story was being told by a slightly older version of the same guy. Obviously the stories are very different, but their voices sound and feel very alike. Also, the plot is similar to Lev Grossman's Codex. Incredibly similar. Both have a kind-of-likeable, kind-of-annoying young male protagonist whose sidekicks are a computer-obsessed best friend and an unusually intelligent young woman who's also the love interest , a central mystery involving a peculiar library and a centuries-old encoded book, and the use of modern technology and software to help solve a very old-fashioned conundrum.

There's even one scene, involving the main character visiting a warehouse full of museum objects to retrieve an important artefact, which I'm pretty sure is in both books, but I'd have to re-read Codex to know for definite, it's possible I'm confusing it with something else. Secondly, I found it very juvenile. I'm only sure it must be intended for an adult market because all the characters are adults - I really felt the author's style and execution would be much better suited to an adventure for teens more specifically, teenage boys.

There's no real tension or peril: it's too obvious any obstacles are going to be overcome easily. I did genuinely like the fact that the power of new technology was so closely woven into a story about an arcane fellowship of book-lovers, and the progression of the story illustrated that there will always be a place for both 'old' and 'new'.

But all those references to Google, Twitter, apps etc are going to sound very dated very soon, and the fact that the characters could solve practically anything by looking it up on the internet - while accurate and funny - diffused a lot of potential tension. I thought this was a likeable, quick and very easy read but I have to admit I'm a bit bemused by all the rave reviews it's been getting. It's a nice idea, but it's been done before and done better.

Ready Player One is more involving and more fun, and there are countless versions of the secret-society-intrigue-and-mystery story that have more power, atmosphere and punch. View all 70 comments. Meh - 1. While Mr. Sloan is imaginative and quick witted it does not make up for poor writing and boring characters. The book is just bad first person narrative. This would be an acceptable as a Syfy Saturday movie but not for a novel. For example "It's early in the morning. We came straight from the airport.

Neel visits Manhattan all the time for business and I used to take the train down f Meh - 1. Neel visits Manhattan all the time for business and I used to take the train down from Providence. Neel narrows his eyes. Also, the book is a novel long ad for Google and Amazon. The narrator can't stop talking about "Googlers" and Kindles.

I like my Kindle but not as its own character in my book. I can see that the author was trying to marry the old and the new - traditional books and new technology but he failed, really, really failed. View all 48 comments. Jun 17, karen rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-about-books-about-books , thank-you-bea-or-ala. View all 53 comments. I am actually so excited to write this review Because I have so many thoughts, let's do this bullet-point style. I never felt that horrible dread you feel sometimes when you're reading: that loss of faith with the author where you ask the horrible question "Is the author going to screw this all up?

It was constantly fun and happy. It made me happy.

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When reading you are constantly learning new things through the decisions of people, by taking on new perspectives, but in this book I actually learned new facts and things! It felt like I was picking up interesting knowledge and it kept me excited to read. To places like Hogwarts, to places like Spy Kids, from Google to a knitting museum, this book never felt stagnant. It was fresh and exciting and the settings all felt so legitimate.

And there were so many of them! We had so many different secondary characters constantly being introduced but the writing never made them feel unnecessary… in real life we have people that we need for certain things but only interact with very little. This book had lots of different levels of interaction with people, which was new and great. Also, the characters were all super complex and fascinating. None of them felt flat or 1 dimensional.. Between older people and younger people, older technologies and newer technologies, older thinking and newer thinking.

There was such an amazing use of different technologies in this book, but best of all they were all plausible. But everything used in this book was real, and it made me feel like this adventure actually happened. He is exactly the kind of lead you want in this type of story! I had such a riot reading this book. And the best part? It was so well crafted and had me in smiles and laughs every time I picked it up.

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Ultimate recommendation! Talking to them throughout the reading made it even more fun! The mystery had us going and it took us to a happy place View all 23 comments. Forgive me, people, this review will be all gushing! This book charmed me from the very beginning -- with fresh internal monologues, from Clay Jannon, a recent unemployed young man, who just lost his first job out of art school How could I not? This book is a love letter for books, bibliophiles, but also for technology. We know that the world of books, publishings, and reading have changed in the recen Forgive me, people, this review will be all gushing!

We know that the world of books, publishings, and reading have changed in the recent years, thanks to the wonderful world of Internet. There are ebooks, ereaders Kindles, Nook, Kobo, etc , and tablets. We start looking for definitions from Google instead of those huge print dictionaries. We start looking for facts on Wikipedia. This book refers to all that. It combines the wonderful world of stories fonts! It's not futuristic, it's not high fantasy, it's simply a use of contemporary items around us I'm simply in love with the feeling that this book evokes.

Penumbra, the owner of the store who is also involved in a secret literary group. And it keeps the right balance between books and technology. Just when I think technology will win it all, to solve everything, the book throws a twist. That nope, the great human mind can still win. It's just so, SO amazing. The book is not without flaws. I'm quite disappointed that the whole adventure pretty much happens at Google or at the store. I sort of want the story to go all "Indiana Jones" or "National Treasure", you know, with secret caves, and such.

Also, the very VERY contemporary feeling of this story, might make it go outdated quickly. But in the end, I go back to the whole feeling I have when I'm reading this. It's excitement, it's happiness, it's like being with friends who are really, really enthusiastic about the things I love. But I hope you will remember this: A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need.

A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time. View all 14 comments. Mar 26, carol. Authors are magicians. I was in the early pages of Mr. Penumbra when I realized that Sloan was sneaking in a major chain of events in only a few short paragraphs with the intention of moving the story to where he needed it. It was the authorial equivalent of "look, nothing up my sleeve" in preparation of a hat trick.

Rather than irritation from this momentary flap of curtain or glimpse of rabbit ear, I was rather captivated. Thinking back on books I've loved or hated, it occurs to me that in that Authors are magicians. Thinking back on books I've loved or hated, it occurs to me that in that moment of authorial sleight-of-hand, the reader willingness to accept the underlying set-up is fundamental to the experience of the story, particularly in fantasy, sci-fiction and magical realism.

A suspension of belief at the right parts, or at least belief enough in the presentation to accept and enjoy it, is crucial to a good read. Penumbra is charming, and it was easy to be interested in Clay's search for a job, intrigued by the mystery of the bookstore, and captivated by the charisma of Clay's friends.

Eventually, Sloan reaches a bit too far, tries a large-scale trick that requires more stage presence and set-up than he can pull off. It's the equivalent of seeing a magician at the local theater and watching them try and disappear the Empire State Building. The story veers out of control and falls apart, yet still manages to remain charm and sincerity to be worth reading.

Part of Sloan's skill is in his ability to capture familiar emotion. I remember those days when I had job-idealism: "But I kept at it with the help-wanted ads. My standards were sliding swiftly. At first I had insisted I would only work at a company with a mission I believe in. Then I thought maybe it would be find as long as I was learning something new.

After that I decided it just couldn't be evil. Now I was carefully delineating my personal definition of evil. Oliver is training to be a museum curator Oliver daydreams about Ionian columns. Our friendship is a nebula. This is my primary filter for new friends girl- and otherwise and the highest compliment I can pay. I thought the quest metaphor was clever, and appreciated the connection with a fantasy trilogy and friend that was instrumental in Clay's formative years but it didn't quite stretch far enough.

Or maybe it did, and the quest was an illusion. It's hard to say; Sloan was showing his hand too much by the end and the spy caper didn't fit with the sweet bookstore mystery. The romance was lost in the quest, and imperfectly resolved. Neel's professional fascination with boobs struck me as a false note, although it had the feel of a ten-year-old voyeur over the thirty-year-old creeper.

My final complaint is rooting the story so solidly in Google; perhaps integral to Sloan's version of the story, it significantly roots it in time and will date it faster than any other element. For me, these concerns added up to too many wires and mirrors, and allowed me to lose the illusion. Three, three and a half stars. View all 18 comments. Jun 09, Greg rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction , books-about-books. I am so happy that we happened to be walking past the booth were Robin Sloan was signing, and someone was holding up a copy of the attractive ARC trying to lure people onto the line which I now see the cover has been added to the book on goodreads, the book looks better than the picture suggests.

This is good and I'm thinking if the world has any fairness at all this will be a fairly good selling book this fall. In a perfect world this would go blasting up the sales charts and topple the Fifty I am so happy that we happened to be walking past the booth were Robin Sloan was signing, and someone was holding up a copy of the attractive ARC trying to lure people onto the line which I now see the cover has been added to the book on goodreads, the book looks better than the picture suggests.

In a perfect world this would go blasting up the sales charts and topple the Fifty Shades craze, but that's not really going to happen but this is one of those books that succeeds at being a good 'page-turner' and fairly smart and not smart in the way of say, I cribbed all the details from Holy Blood, Holy Grail kind of smart. I'm pretty excited for this book to come out, and fellow book-nerds you should be too. It's not the best written book ever, and it's not as smart as say Flame Alphabet , but it's super-fun. It's the kind of book that makes me wish that there were more books like it in existence.

It's sort of in the same league as The Shadow of the Wind or a pared down Umberto Eco novel written but William Gibson or actually by a reigned in Neal Stephenson would be accurate, but he can't seem to write books that aren't gigantic meaty tomes, and this isn't that kind of book. Maybe I'll re-read this book and write more of a review when it gets closer to the October 2nd pub date, but for now take my word on this and put it on your to-read shelf so you don't forget about it!

Oh and this book really makes me wish I had been smarter and younger and been the type of person that google would hire. View all 41 comments. May 23, Felicia rated it it was amazing Shelves: fantasy , fiction. Well, I can't say I've been charmed by a book more in a while, and jealous I didn't write it. This is a totally hipster book that rings all my bells, I feel like it sort of summarizes the zeitgeist of our internet generation, the gap between old and new.

Basically the main character, Clay, is unemployed tech guy, gets a job in a run-down bookstore that has a mysterious agenda that he can't help but get roped into. I'm a sucker for secret societies, and there's a touch of Amelie whimsey that is ri Well, I can't say I've been charmed by a book more in a while, and jealous I didn't write it. I'm a sucker for secret societies, and there's a touch of Amelie whimsey that is right up my alley in this as well. I mean, Google comes into it, it's so almost a cliche for me this book! If I were to quibble, it's that the ending isn't quite dramatic enough, but the journey was so fun I can forget that.

View all 4 comments. Jan 14, Maciek rated it it was ok Shelves: thriller-mystery-suspense , reviewed , read-in Penumbra's Hour Bookstore is the debut novel by Robin Sloan, and a publishing sensation - it was Amazon's Best Book of the Month in October , and received a lot of attention and praise from reviewers, authors and readers.

No wonder - who wouldn't want a hour book store? The novel aspires to be classified as a "literary mystery", or an "intelligent thriller" - both labels are somewhat insulting by suggesting that mysteries and thrillers are by default a lower tier of literature, and Mr. The novel aspires to be classified as a "literary mystery", or an "intelligent thriller" - both labels are somewhat insulting by suggesting that mysteries and thrillers are by default a lower tier of literature, and that the classic whodunnit does not require the use of the reader's brain other than to remember what the detective is called, hence the need to emphasize that this particular one is in fact intelligent and should not be grouped together with the common paperback, featuring the latest case of inspector Z in the series Y.

Its premise usually aims to be more complex than a simple murder scenario: the protagonist s usually search for a long lost document of great importance, one which can change the history of the world. This scheme presents plenty of opportunities to include laboriously researched data, allowing the reader to feel the impression that they're learning facts along with following the plot, which moves at the pace of a "regular" thriller - and you've got a bestseller. The poster boy of this movement is of course Dan Brown, who with his The Da Vinci Code shot up to fame and popularity unexpected by anyone; hundreds of novels following aiming to cash in on the scheme have appeared since its publication in Penumbra reminded me heavily of Lev Grossman's forgotten novel Codex , which also follows Brown's pattern: Both Penumbra and Codex have a male protagonist who is friends with a computer genius; the central mystery involves a special book and a secret library and features the use of contemporary technology to understand its contents.

It also struck me as completely plain and almost juvenile, despite being marketed as a work for adults. The characters lack depth and originality, and barely provoke any interest in the reader; from the paper-thin protagonist and his wealthy IT yuppie friend, the love interest - a slim and geeky girl who is of course attractive and willing to be interested in our protagonist she's described as having feline-like qualities, and is called Kat - because the author makes so.

Even the old Mr. Penumbra with his quirky name provokes little interest. There's a foreing character from Belarus, who's also hopelessly presented with attempts at a foreign accent and a foreign name of Igor at least it's not Ivan. Although the book is set in San Francisco, it does not have any sense of the place; it could have been set in any city on the East Coast - or West Coast for that matter, or in truth in any major city in any country: the only references to San Francisco are the mentions of the IT businesses and people profiting or getting laid off, and just once - "the smell of the ocean".

The setting is like a cardboard prop in a B-movie, threatening to fall apart at the slightest gust of wind. The central mystery does not feel like a mystery at all, as there is no sense of any possible danger looming ahead; although the main character is presented as a man in a tough spot he and his friends always easily find a convenient solution to any problem, which comes at a little to any cost.

The novel is short - very short - and packed with references to pop culture and books - communicating via Skype, the inner workings of Google, working at a bookstore and dealing with weird customers - but these references seem to do little for the overall plot, as they are what most of us already experienced and know well. With a well-oiled engine to drive this book forward, the pace slows down, and the road ends up nowhere. I was not surprised when I discovered that the author has initially published a short story , which he later expanded into a novel.

I did not find the short story any better, and the added fat did not give the novel any extra merit: it has been done before and better, and undoubtedly will be again. This book is forcefully hip, tries to accomplish too much and accomplishes too little; even as an allegory or fantasy it's too bland and obvious. The comparisons readers and critics make strike me as unbelieveable - Umberto Eco?

Neal Stephenson? William Gibson? I remain puzzled by its popularity and the praise it gathered - perhaps the real and much more interesting conspiracy lies there. Jan 17, Sarah rated it did not like it. Should probably be two stars, but I feel mean and petty today. Sorry, Mr. It all just seemed so I feel kind of pretentious saying that, which makes me sad, because there's nothing I hate more than pretentious book reviews. It's just a mess of worn-out tropes and utterly unoriginal characters.

Mysterious dusty bookshops and peculiar old men. I think Sloan tried to revamp that old line with some "hip" new technology stuff, but he just failed miserably. He almost made me hate Goog Should probably be two stars, but I feel mean and petty today. He almost made me hate Google just by talking about it so much.

And he killed any potential for intrigue and adventure in the book by making his main character oh-so-coincidentally friends with experts on everything with access to every resource one could possibly need. Need to figure out a code in a book? By golly, guess it's good he's friends with a girl who has access to the best scanner and decoder in the world! Need money? Not a problem, 'cause his elementary-school best friend is a millionaire! Need a moveable scanner? Luckily he knows just the site to find one, and a stranger is willing to build and transport it to him! Needs to know about ancient art shit?

Thank the Lord his co-worker is an archaeological genius! Sloan was clearly a Harry Potter fan, so I'm just glad he didn't write that series: "'We have to find the horcruxes! He logged onto the horcrux database and typed a simple search: 'horcruxes AND voldemort OR he-who-must-not-be-named. But how to destroy them? Harry called up Dumbledore, who had made his fortune building a special transportable Horcrux Deactivator made of wizard cardboard. Hedwig fetched it for him immediately, and Harry utilized it to great effect. All was well.

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And I appreciate that Sloan didn't ignore it--too many books nowadays build elaborate plot points around things that could be solved with a simple Google yes, Google again! But he went too far in the other direction and killed his own story's intrigue. I thought the climax of the story was terribly underwhelming. I had no interest in any of the characters. I appreciate what Mr. Sloan was trying to do, but it fell flat for me. Things felt rather gimmick-y. It's probably a bad sign when the best thing about your book is that it glows in the dark.

What a mean review this is. I feel a bit bad about it, actually. If the book sounds really interesting to you, go ahead and read it. But I got nothing from it. Shelves: first-person-narration. I have just lost the will to live. Have spent two hours writing a review of this brilliant book and then saved it but somehow Goodreads managed to lose it.

Will probably kill someone if i sit here any longer so am off to the gym to do something sweaty, noisy and pointless and maybe will try again later. Bye for now I hate the 21st Century sometimes 'Your life must be an open city, with all sorts of ways to wander in' 'All t I have just lost the will to live. I hate the 21st Century sometimes 'Your life must be an open city, with all sorts of ways to wander in' 'All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight'.

For me these three quotations sum up this madcap book. They are the foundation stones on which the whole fabulous edifice is grounded.

Fabulous in every way imaginable. Well actually, he is a dude. This word appears to be one of Sloan's favourite ways of describing people and I have said somewhere else that I love this word and all the associations it has in my mind with cool and laid back and being part of an 'in-crowd'. However, in my case, if to be a dude was ever on offer i did not notice and so here i have one of those great moments of imagining myself in amidst this eclectic group of friends. A great piece of middle aged escapism. Anyway this 'dude', having lost his job as a website designer, stumbles across a bookshop in which he gains a shaky foothold and then begins to realize there is far more to its dusty and vertigo inducing bookshelves then first he thought.

Sloan's characterization of the different relationships between the main characters is lovely. Their interaction is really believable and the gradual deepening of the various frienships is a joy to behold. It is the search for the solving of this underlying mystery at the heart of the bookshop which is the fascinating triumph for Sloan.

Computers, Ancient Printing Presses, Secret Societies and mysterious hidden buildings, sinister, shadowy rumours and theories move and revolve around each other to create an intriguing story which moves back and forth across history cleverly showing the essential truth of the little aphorism quoted above. However it is the fact that the truth of this quotation stretches beyond the book and out into my mind which i found fascinating. What goes unnoticed to me? What truths do i ignore or misunderstand or, more likely, take for granted and dismiss?

Sloan has a great imagination. Two little examples of the world he creates; He presents us with a system of storage of information on the web which, in its complicated and far-reaching stretch, seems totally believable and he describes an enormous warehouse in which all discarded and overlooked treasures are kept safely and securely awaiting reclamation or just abandonment. In this warehouse, enormous beyond imagining, the different storage cases and shelves move around via computer programmes as if with a mind of their own as people go to claim or borrow them.

Both these creations were so well presented that i felt they must have already existed, they must have been things Sloan was simply describing from reality. His Quidditch if you will, so real that it must already exist somewhere. This is the sign of an excellent imagination and a first rate writer. There is one small little scene in the warehouse involving Clay and a portrait That is another strength of Sloan's book, it is not thigh slappingly funny, and I did see Tom Cruise do that very thing on an interview show once so I know there are some idiots who actually do that, no Sloan's book is gently amusing.

Mr. Penumbra's Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

His dialogue, his descriptions and his plot, all these things make you smile and that can never be bad. There is something for book lovers here and for computer geeks and technophiles, for health freaks and conspiracy theorists and for code breakers and suspense fans. Is there much for those of a love persuasion? Well there is the gentlest fragrance of a romance or two to keep you wondering, there is a heavy musk of testosterone induced hetero bro-mance, there is the incense laden scent of disciple and master and the underlying whiff of hero worship and, of course, the over-riding odour of book-adoration but wherever the love comes from Sloan is saying something of real significance it seems to me.

You never know who will enter your life and by which by-way. Any locked door or no entry sign or keep out marker does not protect but impoverishes. Jannon comes to realize that more and more and so do the people with whom he comes into contact. This is, as others have said before, a book of friendship but it is friendship in a myriad of forms. My apologies to Mr Sloan for this paltry attempt at review. The one I toiled over this morning, the one that got away So please, dear reader, take this as a small offering and maybe when i have the heart for it i will try better.

It is an excellent book though. View all 45 comments. Nov 25, Ginny rated it it was ok Shelves: fiction , library-book. A mysterious old bookstore with some kind of secret society to be infiltrated and unraveled? Except, alas, here we have a fun premise ruined by bullshit nerdbro execution. An everyman nerd protagonist with no personality beyond a degree in design and deep knowledge of the internet whose main development is his realization he has talented friends who are more interesting than he is.

A best friend whose company does boob physics for video games and whose major contribution to d A mysterious old bookstore with some kind of secret society to be infiltrated and unraveled? At one point corners a female knitting museum curator to pitch an exhibit on boobs in sweaters. Author appears to have been going for "funny", instead lands in "groan-worthy-heart-rendingly-eyeball-rollingly creepy". Manic pixie dreamgirl alert. No Personality Main Character and faithfully helping him in his quest.

Because if she weren't all those things, then this wouldn't be a very satisfying fantasy for all the sensitive nerdbros out there would it? Unsurprisingly, doesn't manage to pass the Bechdel test, and if it does, it does so barely. The point, of course, of the Bechdel test is that it's a laughably low bar for involvement of female characters in your plot and so even if you manage to just barely pass it, there is still something deeply problematic about your story.

The main distinction between characters in this novel is which precise arcane subject they are obsessed with. Is it fonts? Is it miniature practical effects? Ancient architecture? Data visualization? Life extension? In typical nerdbro fashion, people are not interesting for their emotional or psycho-social development we are left to conclude they have none but rather for their nerdly obsessions.

I have no problem with nerdly obsessions, except that they are a poor substitute for actual character development. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that apparently the moral of the story is we get by with a little help from our friends wow, such deep, so learning, wow except the author undermines his own point by actually having the main character go lone wolf in the last third of his quest.

So, friends are good but you, oh sensitive nerdbro, are also the mighty lone hero. Did you forget about boobs? View all 21 comments. Sep 12, PorshaJo rated it it was ok Shelves: challengereads , challengereads , audio. OK, I'm going to try something different with this review I have been wanting to read this one for so long.

I was enchanted about the idea of this 24 hour book store. A book about a bookstore, with book references