Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Looking for any work, laid-off San Francisco web designer Clay Jannon answers an ad for a clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore.  Looking for a normal desk and a normal boss, he finds Penumbra who, to say the least, is a bit odd.  Looking to keep the job, Clay follows the rules about keeping meticulous records of who comes into the store and what books they ask for.  Especially those that request them from the “back” of the store.  Looking to satisfy his curiosity, Clay opens one of the requested books, only to find it written entirely in code.  Looking for more answers, Clay confronts Penumbra.  Looking for an apprentice in a secret society, Penumbra explains his motivations.  Looking to solve the mystery of immortality, Clay and his companions travel to New York and the headquarters of the secret society, only to discover that they will never look at anything the same way again.  A great, mysterious read.

October Baby by Eric Wilson

Not long after Hannah, a college freshman, experiences increasing anxiety and a sudden collapse, all signs point to the surprising circumstances of her birth.  Hannah soon learns from her parents that she was adopted and is the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Bewildered, angry, and confused, Hannah turns to her oldest friend, Jason, for support.  Encouraged by his adventurous spirit, she joins Jason and his friends on a road trip, embarking on a journey to discover her hidden past and find hope for the unknown future.  Along the way, Hannah finds that every life is beautiful, and that life can be so much more than what we might have planned.  This author also wrote the book "Fireproof".  I loved the book and can't wait to watch the movie adaptation.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Life as a Furry Red Monster by Kevin Clash

My Life as a Furry Red Monster is the lighthearted autobiography of Kevin Clash, the voice and muppeteer talent behind Sesame Street’s most beloved character, Elmo.  In the book, Clash describes in some detail his youth and early love of puppets and acting, performing in neighborhood shows and making his own puppets out of scrap materials.  He mentions how his early forays into television shaped the characters he would play on Sesame Street, and describes the global impact that Sesame Street has had with localized versions in foreign countries. Clash then ties it all in by explaining what Elmo has become: a friend that three-year-olds feel they can relate to and an expression of unconditional love and curiosity.  Elmo is the optimist and the best in all of us.  Highly recommended. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Katie arrives in South Port obviously running from something. She begins a new life trying to keep a low profile. But like  in any small town she is noticed, and asked questions from people she works with and people in places she must frequent in order to survive.
She becomes friends with Jo, a lady who moves into the cottage adjacent to hers. She also attracts the attention of Alex, a widowed store owner with two children. As time passes, Katie begins to feel more comfortable and opens up to Alex about her past, a violent husband who, she feels, is still looking for her. Kevin, the husband is a police detective. He starts out fine, but gradually becomes more controlling and indeed crazed. He is a good detective, but alcohol and a poor mental state are why it takes him several months to finally track down Erin (Katie).
A grand finale ending, where it all comes to a head, reveals the love of a new family for Katie and a surprise about Jo. I read this book on my recent vacation and enjoyed it very much. I am now looking forward to the soon to be released movie.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Digging To America by Anne Tyler

Two families who would have never come together, meet by chance at an airport.  Each couple is waiting for the Korean child they have adopted.  The Donaldsons decide to invite the Yazdans to an arrival party, an event that is repeated every year as the two families become more deeply intertwined.  This was a great book that showed America in two different lights as the families decide how to raise their children.  It was funny and tender.  Just an all around good book.

Reagan Diaries by Ronald Reagan

Based on Reagan's personal diaries, kept daily over a period of eight years, this book gives us more insight into the REAL Ronald Reagan.  During his 2 terms as our 40th president he kept a diary that has proven very revealing not only for conservatives, but for anyone who wishes to learn about the depth of a very interesting man.  These diaries demonstrate both the deep wisdom, strong conviction and the charming humor of this great man.  Re-living all the major events of the 1980s is made deeply personal as the President recorded his meals, doctor's visits, private visitors, movies, books, horseback rides and ranch chores alongside the great moments of his time.  President Reagan's convictions and deeply-held beliefs clearly guided his decisions and actions, as he recorded them for history. His habits of not taking himself too seriously, reaching across the aisle in bipartisanship and staying rooted in moral truth set good examples for those who succeed him.

Slow Burn by Julie Garwood

Another Buchanan book that was wonderful. Julie Garwood is great at balancing a sexy, sweet, and loving romance with a very good mystery.   It has just enough suspense and mystery to keep you intrigued, but not so much as to overwhelm the developing love story between Kate McKenna and Dylan Buchanan. This book, much like many of Ms. Garwood's books on romance, features a woman who knows her own value and worth, but recognize her need to have the insights and protection of a man, especially after she seems to be having some bad luck involving bombs exploding near her. She has unknowingly become the target of an assassin. It is only after two attempts on her life failed that she comes to the conclusion that someone wants her dead. She shares her concerns with her friend Jordan Buchanan, who sends her brother Dylan down to help her figure out what is happening to her and why. There is a second story line having to do with Kates mother and sisters and the company Kate started while she was in college.