Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore: Book Review

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Summary

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-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 bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

—Goodreads

Review

I picked up Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore as I was headed to check out my books at the library. The bright cover caught my eye and the title hooked me immediately. Why would you need a 24 hour bookstore? Who is going to a bookstore at all hours of the night? Surely it’s a front for something, right? (I mean all 24 hour establishments are. Obviously.) Whoever said you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover is very wrong. How else do you decide to read it?

This book is full of mystery and intrigue from the moment you open the front cover. The language is easy to read but it delves into deeper meaning that keeps the reader enthralled making it more than superficial entertainment.

With a mixture of love and mystery, this novel falls into the “this is life” genre (patent pending). It’s the story of one man who finds himself out of work and ends up with a job in a place that even he doesn’t understand. But the night shift at a 24 hour bookstore is full of mysteries just waiting to be uncovered.

The story explores the dichotomy between electronic words on devices and computers and the physical printed word. Which is better? Is there a compelling argument for sticking with the physical books of the past?

Each character in this book is full of quirks and excitement; even the smallest of supporting roles. This story will have you thinking, feeling, imagining, and wondering. All reasons to make Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore next on your reading list.

VERDICT: READ IT!!

A Thankful Heart by David A. Christensen + Giveaway

Note: I did receive a complimentary copy of this book but all opinions are my own.

A Thankful Heart blog tour

Summary:

This LDS Non-Fiction book is written by a former mission president and retired religion professor at BYU-Idaho. Each of the 31 chapters focuses on different aspect of how to incorporate thankfulness into your life. The chapters begin with a quote from a leader in the church, continue with a personal anecdote with suggestions on how that aspect of thankfulness is important, and close with questions and scripture references to further your study. The short chapters are broken down into 31 easy-to comprehend principles so you can read it over the course of a month, a chapter a day, and get your daily dose of gratitude.

Verdict:

This book gave me answers to questions that I didn’t know I had. My life as a busy mother of two is hectic and stressful and I often end my days feeling like I haven’t done anything worth while. I have gotten into the very bad habit of complaining a lot. This book showed me why it’s important to have an ‘attitude of gratitude’ and how just slowing down and opening my mind will allow me to notice the Lord’s hand in everything in my life.

My prayers have become more meaningful. My day to day struggles have become a little less difficult. My attitude of complaining is slowly shifting into a more optimistic view of the Lord’s plan for me. I would have never thought that the key to being happier is being more grateful but I am living proof that it is.

My hectic busy schedule taking care of a toddler and an infant doesn’t leave a lot of time for reading. I found that these chapters are short enough that I could easily read one a day. The questions at the end of each chapter are so thought-provoking and have given me great material for my daily journal writing. On days where I didn’t have a lot of time, I would read the chapter and read through the questions but maybe not write my answers in my journal or look up the individual scriptures. On other days where the kids had a longer nap time, I could take my time really pondering how I could improve my life and way of thinking by the principle taught in that chapter. It really is so perfect to be able to incorporate one principle a day; they really build off each other.

I never would have guessed that there were so many different aspects to gratitude but it just goes to show how you can really incorporate it into every little part of your life. I’ve started keeping an ongoing list of my blessings in my phone, it’s a great place to keep it since I can update it anytime. On hard days I’ve been able to take a step back and see all of the Lord’s tender mercies. It’s been humbling to recognize that everything I have and everything I do, I have not done alone. It’s been important for me to realize Heavenly Father’s guiding hand in my life and see that he is setting me on my path and giving me all the tools, I just need to recognize it and follow his plan. And then thank Him for never leaving me comfortless.

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough. I want to buy a copy for everyone I know. It’s so easy to read a little bit everyday and Christensen is a great writer. His personal anecdotes are on point and enjoyable to read. This is not a book to read once and set on a shelf to collect dust. It’s a book full of helpful ideas, questions and quotes to refer to on a regular basis.

So are you ready to change your life by developing an attitude of gratitude? You can win an electronic copy of David A. Christensen’s, A Thankful Heart right here on this very blog (lucky you). The instructions to enter are listed below:

  1. Share this post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest
  2. Comment below what you are most thankful for

You have to do both things to enter (I’ll be checking!) Good luck! You have until this Saturday (9/26) at 11pm MST.

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For more info on how to purchase the book or where to get updates from the author on upcoming books and giveaways:
Check out the authors website :: Follow him on Facebook :: Or Instagram @david.a.christensen

Room by Emma Donoghue

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Summary:

Today is Jack’s 5th birthday. He wakes up in Room like every morning, walks across Rug over to Table where Ma gets him breakfast. He gets to watch an extra cartoon on TV because it’s his birthday. It’s a little fuzzy so he moves Bunny to make the picture better. He loves to see Dora, but she’s not real, she’s just TV like the sea and the sky and dogs and other little boys and girls. For Jack, Room is the only home he’s ever known. To Ma, Room is an 11 X 11 ft prison that has held her captive for seven years since the day ‘Old Nick’ kidnapped her. Every night Jack goes to bed in Wardrobe, just in case Old Nick comes to see Ma. Jack doesn’t like Old Nick, but he does bring their food and Sundaytreat. But Jack is growing more curious about what is real and what is TV and Ma knows that Room can’t contain him for much longer.

Verdict:

I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to read Room by Emma Donoghue. I saw it at Barnes and Noble and thought it looked interesting but didn’t buy it. I only picked it up after I saw it for $0.99 at Goodwill. The good thing about this book is that it’s told in the perspective of Jack, a five year old so it can’t delve too deep into the gory details. I was amazed at how well Donoghue was able to fully tell such a complex story through the mind of a 5 year old.

Room is a very powerful novel that sucks you in, puts you in the shoes of someone seeing the world for the first time and shows you the strong impenetrable bond between a mother and son. It only takes the first couple pages to get used to the way Jack talks:

“Usually I’m not allowed to draw on any bits of Room or furnitures. When I was two I scribbled on the leg of Bed, her one near Wardrobe, so whenever we’re cleaning Ma taps the scribble and says, “Look, we have to live with that forever.” But my birthday tall is different, it’s tiny numbers beside Door, a black 4, and a black 3 underneath, and a red 2 that was the color our old Pen was till he ran out, and at the bottom a red 1.” -Room, pg. 12

While I still felt sad during the book because it’s such on awful situation, it’s hard to be constantly overcome with grief when I five year old is leading you through the story with such naive optimism. I read this book in roughly two days, I could not put it down. Jack is such a fantastic narrator and their story is one that most of us aren’t familiar with. I can’t imagine being in Ma’s situation and trying to figure out how to teach a child about the world when he has never seen outside an 11 X 11 ft room that doesn’t have any windows.

I was blown away by this book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has a heart and knows how to read. Be prepared to laugh and cry and laugh and gasp and applaud and get totally and completely sucked in to Room.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Summary:

Liz is unhappy. She realizes this fact when she finds herself crumpled in a ball on her bathroom floor in the middle of the night bawling her eyes out…again. After a messy divorce and then a messy break up she decides it’s time for her own personal journey to find herself. This is how she ends up taking the next year to travel through the three I’s: first Italy to explore pleasure (and eat), then India to stay in an Ashram and practice yoga and learn devotion (and pray), and finally to Indonesia, Bali to be exact, where she finds the ultimate balance, learns to have a happy life and finally finds love.

Verdict:

Reading this book is like hanging out with a best friend who tells you all the juicy details of their life you’ve always wondered about and encourages you to follow her example and find yourself. I drank up every last sweet drop of this book and then tipped it upside down at the end hoping more would pour out. I could relate with Liz on several different levels and I found myself agreeing with her that learning Italian just because it’s pretty is a good enough reason. I understood her personification of depression and loneliness and on a completely different level of literary appreciation, I loved that she personified depression and loneliness.

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Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

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Lexi wakes up in a hospital bed unsure of how she got there. The last thing she vaguely remembers is partying with her friends the night before her father’s funeral. But then she looks around and notices that her nails are beautifully long and perfectly painted, not her gnawed little stubs. A look in the mirror reveals tanned skin, perfect hair, flat tight abs, and no more snaggle tooth. What kind of hospital is this?! Come to find out she’s been in a car accident and lost three years of her memory. What ensues is painstaking hilarity, embarrassing misunderstandings, and a quest to find out how she went from a clumsy girl known for her snaggle tooth to someone all her old friends hate. Throw a perfect husband vs. sexy architect into the mix and you’ve got yourself a classic rom-com!

And the verdict is:

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The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

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The Undomestic Goddess is a classic story of mistaken identity with a  housecleaning twist.

 

 

The story is set in London where Samantha Sweeting is working as a high-powered lawyer at the best law firm, hoping to become the youngest partner, a goal she has been working toward since her childhood. And her work load has come with its share of stress, not leaving her a night or weekend to herself.

When her dream of becoming partner becomes a reality she is elated, that is until she realizes she has made a mistake that will cost a client millions. In a fit of utter disbelief she drunkenly boards a train and ends up on the doorstep of a random home. The woman who opens the door happens to be expecting a new maid from an agency and suddenly Samantha has found a new job.

Samantha, a girl who can’t figure out why a vacuum needs a bag and has never cooked anything or done her own laundry has to learn how to be a housekeeper. In the process she finds love, happiness, and a world she never knew existed.

I really loved this book. I picked it up because the author, Sophie Kinsella,  also wrote the Shopaholic series, which I loved. My first thought was that it would be a funny, easy read just for entertainment, but what I found was a little more than that. The characters are so well developed that I found myself in London struggling along with Samantha to clean this impossibly large house and juggle making gourmet meals. I remember having similar feelings when I was first married. Thankfully, my mother actually taught me the basics of cooking and cleaning before I moved out.

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Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

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Be careful what you wish for.

For a woman, one wish ends in childhood tragedy. The second results in being struck by lightning.

Following her lightning strike she feels horribly cold from the inside out and cannot stop the ticking in her head. Her only solace is with a fellow lightning strikee who was supposedly dead for 45 minutes before he got up and walked out of the hospital. His lasting curse: constant heat. Their relationship is anything but normal. How did lightening turn one person to fire and the other to ice?

 “A marvelous writer with a painter’s eye who takes the landscape of ordinary people experiencing ordinary emotions and colors them in unexpected ways.” -Washington Post Book World

This is a story of one woman, obsessed with death, unable to keep family, living her life through loss and the constant shadow regrettable wishes.

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Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

It was more than just a story for me. It was my home away from home; my escape. The letter I was waiting to get from the owl I was sure to meet. It was the possibility that I was more than just me.

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I remember the first time I read a Harry Potter book. I was about 8 I think. Dad had driven me all the way to the Dr’s office, an endless drive for an 8 year old. I remember I was young because I was still sitting in the back seat of the car. Then again I’ve always been short so I sat in the back seat for a long time. Anyway, we took care of everything we needed to, we got in the car to head back home and Dad stopped at a gas station on the way out. Me, being the impatient person that I am, could not bear to sit and wait the 5-8 minutes it would take to fill up the car with gas. So I looked around to find something to occupy my time with. And that’s when I saw it, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I specifically remember studying the cover of the book for a while before finally deciding it was worth my time to open. The rest is history.

I found myself waiting for my 11th birthday when I would inevitably get an invitation to a secret school.

When my birthday came and went, my imagination filled in the holes. I carefully read every book and became good friends with Ron, Harry and Hermione (In my head I pronounced it Her-me-own-ee). I remember waiting in line for one of the books to come out so we could buy our family copy.I remember that each book got exponentially better. I remember that when I read the 4th book I got half way through and took a 3-4 month break before picking it up again.

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