I loved this book. I loved the characters, the plot, the premise.
Clay Jannon is a recently unemployed graphic designer who stumbles upon Mr. Penumbra...moreI loved this book. I loved the characters, the plot, the premise.
Clay Jannon is a recently unemployed graphic designer who stumbles upon Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore after noticing a help wanted sign. He meets the owner, Mr. Penumbra himself, who asks him, "What do you seek in these shelves?" (What a great question to be asked upon entering a bookstore, by the way!)
Thus begins a fun, quirky journey through the idiosyncrasies of Mr. Penumbra, his bookstore, and the "members" who "shop" there. Clay quickly realizes that the bookstore is not your run-of-the-mill bookstore and is drawn into a search for the truth of what's really happening. His friends, roommates, and the girl he meets when she visits the store as a result of a Google ad he placed to advertise for the store become involved in trying to unravel the mystery of the Unbroken Spine.
It's part literary thriller, part technology thriller, part historical thriller, and part a lot of things. And the sum of its parts is a lot of fun. (less)
Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the most clever and entertaining books I've ever read, so I've had high hopes fo...moreMark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the most clever and entertaining books I've ever read, so I've had high hopes for his two subsequent books. His follow-up, A Spot of Bother, was a tremendous disappointment, but to be honest, it may have been a case of impossibly high expectations. So it was that I approached his new novel, The Red House, with tamped-down hopes. And while it wasn't the grand slam that Curious Incident was, it was still enjoyable. It took some time, as other reviewers elsewhere have suggested, to get accustomed to the back-and-forth viewpoints of the characters, but somewhere around the midpoint I found a rhythm as I read it, and it turned out to be a compelling read.
In brief, The Red House is the story of two siblings mourning the recent death of their mother agreeing to a weeklong vacation at Richard, the brother's, expense. Richard and Angela are estranged, and so their families barely know the others. Each member (Richard and Angela, their spouses, and their children) are struggling with different aspects of their lives and relationships, and they collide in a rented house for a week's vacation.
It's worth a read, as long as you don't expect the singular brilliance of Curious Incident. (less)
I'd give it a three-and-a-half if that were possible. I liked it, but I didn't love. I wanted to like it more than it did, but by the end, and as is s...moreI'd give it a three-and-a-half if that were possible. I liked it, but I didn't love. I wanted to like it more than it did, but by the end, and as is so often the case when I am able to read bigger chunks of a book at a time, I found myself liking it more.
Narrated by Philip Topping, whose father's funeral opens "& Sons," the book follows the time following Charlie Topping's funeral. The "sons" refer not to Charlie Toppings' sons but to those of his lifelong friend, Andrew Dyer. Known by most as "A.N.," Andrew Dyer is a popular author known, even to his sons, almost exclusively by his books, the most famous of which is "Ampersand." Dyer has a breakdown while giving the eulogy at Topping's funeral and in the aftermath calls his sons Richard and Jamie home. The birth of his illegitimate son Andy destroyed his marriage and further damaged his already tenuous relationship with Richard and Jamie.
Perhaps what irked me the most was the narrator, Philip Topping. I wished David Gilbert had just used a different narrator, but I realize that his presence — or most importantly, his father's — is vital to the story. He was the quintessential unreliable narrator. I found myself asking, "how does he know that?" or "does this narrative reflect reality or the reality that Philip wanted to be true?"
Edmund Morris' first volume in a trilogy on Theodore Roosevelt is considered a masterpiece, and I now know why. Meticulously researched, it's a massiv...moreEdmund Morris' first volume in a trilogy on Theodore Roosevelt is considered a masterpiece, and I now know why. Meticulously researched, it's a massive book that "only" covers Roosevelt's life until he becomes President of the United States in 1901 following the assassination of William McKinley. (The second book in the trilogy covers his presidency and the third his life following his years in the White House. They will be added to my to-read list.)
Morris' writing and storytelling draw a picture of Roosevelt that is utterly fascinating. Readers learn about his childhood illnesses, his family's travels, his fascination with the natural world that led him to create a "Roosevelt Museum of Natural History" in his bedroom, his gregarious personality, and more. Among his various jobs after graduating from Harvard were Assemblyman in the New York House, Civil Service Reform Commissioner in Washington, D.C., Police Commissioner in New York City, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Colonel in the Spanish-American War where he led the "Rough Riders," and finally Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States.
Roosevelt was a voracious reader, and Morris estimates that he read a book a day, even while president. While governor of New York, he wrote a book on Oliver Cromwell in a month following the adjournment of the legislature's session. His book The Naval War of 1812 became a textbook and was placed on board every U.S. Navy vessel. His four-volume Winning of the West is still "considered definitive by serious historians."
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt is as good as any other historical or biographical book I've read.
First, let me say, I love John Grisham's books. I've read everyone of his legal thrillers. I've only not read two of his "adult" books — The Innocent...moreFirst, let me say, I love John Grisham's books. I've read everyone of his legal thrillers. I've only not read two of his "adult" books — The Innocent Man and Calico Joe.
That said, this one was fantastic. Malcolm Bannister is a convicted white-collar criminal, who claims he's innocent. He also has knowledge about the killer of a federal judge, and he uses that knowledge to broker a deal that gets him out of jail and into the witness protection program. And that's where the fun begins.