Reading: “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore”


I had not heard of this book until I wrote a book review for “The Magician’s Elephant.” A sweet reader had nicely commented saying she had just finished reading, “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.” I was intrigued. I liked the sound of the title. It had good reviews online.

I was even more intrigued after I purchased the book and another sweet woman wrote me telling me to look at the book in the dark. It has a cool little unexpected effect. If you have the book at home, try it.

“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” by Robin Sloan, is a quick quirky little book. It won’t change the world. It won’t even change your world. But not all books need to do that. It is still a worthwhile read.

The characters in the book are well laid out. The writing is well done. I very much enjoyed reading it.

The story begins with a young man named Clay, who is in desperate need of a job. He finds employment in a 24-hour bookstore owned by an odd little man named Mr. Penumbra. Clay is in charge of working the night shift. His job consists of tracking the clients that come in to the store and writing down the events of the night.

There are two parts to the bookstore. There are the “regular” books you would find at any brick and mortar bookstore. But there are more. There are dusty tomes of books written in a code that Clay has agreed he will not look at or open.

Could you do that?

I could not.

And neither can Clay.

Which is what Mr. Penumbra is counting on.

In opening the forbidden books, he finds an intriguing path into a secret society. And a mystery is born.


The neat part about this book is that it delves into areas you do not normally associate with science fiction or fantasy genre books. It explores the world of the internet. It also looks into the amazing company of Google, which was fascinating.

There were some flaws. Such as, all of the help Clay receives from his friends who happen to have the perfect resources he needs to solve his mystery. It was incredibly far fetched. Too perfect. But that did not really bother me. The ending was different. I cannot decide if I was disappointed by the ending or if it was perfectly wonderful. It is not the typical ending. But then again, I liked that this was not the typical book.

If you are looking for an easy, fun book that will make you smile, I recommend reading this book.

Have you read this book? Are there any other books I should be reading right now? What are you currently reading?

* The link for the book is an affiliate link. Purchasing the book through the link will result in a small commission for this blog.

Reading: The Husband’s Secret


My friend, Holli, had mentioned this book to me and since it was three days before I had to pick a book for our book club, I decided to research it.

It looked great. I liked the title.


I loved the title.

It made me giggle. Seriously, my heart is usually jostled at least once a week when it breaks into a rhythm of laughter I cannot control.

Because I just posted My Husband’s Secret a few days ago. And it still makes me giggle (stay tuned for part two) every time my husband pulls out his iPod.

Moving on to the review.


I ordered my copy from Amazon.

I usually always read the book I pick before I pick it for book club. But I was procrastinating. Actually, I was reading a fabulous fantasy series, but that would not be my book club’s cup of tea. I decided to spare them and pick a “chick lit.”

I read the book in two days. The end did make me cry. Just a bit. As all “what ifs” do. I don’t know about this book. It was a lot to process. Someone mentioned the book having ADHD in one of their reviews. That is a fair assessment.

I think I would give this book a 6.5 out of 10. It was not my favorite book (here I am being like those parents. “Now Jimmy, we don’t say we don’t like something. Just say it’s not your favorite.” Ahem). I was skeptical about this author because it seems she took every scenario in creative writing class and turned them into books. What if you got amnesia? What if you found a letter addressed to you? I do not know if I am being too critical. I never cared about any of the characters. I do not know why. She is very descriptive, but there is just an element of something missing that would have made me feel anything towards them.


You guys are all smart human beings. I am sure, you, like me, will guess the husband’s secret just by reading the back cover. Thankfully, there is another twist. Otherwise, the book would have gotten a three out of ten from me.

The book did reinforce my terror of children running into the road. It is a real and horrible thing.

And, there is a character in the book, Felicity. She used to be “fat” but has lost weight and is now beautiful. SIGH. The way she writes about this heavier girl made me tell my husband, “this author has never been heavy.” So, yea, hated (uh-oh! Look away Jimmy!) that part.

The ending was great, in my opinion. I did enjoy the quick flash forwards into the character’s lives. That was a nice touch. It was well done and well executed.

Most of the girls in book club gave this book a nine out of ten. It gets wonderful reviews on Amazon. I was just turned off by the Felicity character, the drawn out drama, and my lack of empathy for any of the characters.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Was I too harsh?

Watching: The Book Of Mormon


I debated over writing this review. Mostly because I like to keep things light on this blog. Also, I did not want to invite a debate over this play. Because it is not worth my time. I have all ready wasted money on it. I hate to waste time even more.

I also never want to discuss religion on this blog, because it is just not something I care to discuss.

I also choose not bring up sex on this blog for much the same reason. When my children are out of the house, I might loosen up a bit. But for now those are my rules.

And in talking about this play, I would unfortunately have to bring up both of those words.

So, I decided not to write a review.


Every time I turn on the television, there is a commercial advertising this production with words it does not, in my humble opinion, deserve.

I would feel I am not being true to myself to not put this review out there. This is simply my opinion of the play. I am quite sure based on the laughter in the theater many people would disagree with me. However, here it is. Just this once. Me breaking my rules:

In one word, I would describe The Book Of Mormon play as puzzling.

And not in a good way.

I had been wanting to see The Book Of Mormon, the musical, for years. I am not a fan of South Park, but I absolutely loved the musical Avenue Q.

I did not really know what this play was about. I just knew everyone seemed to love it. It had won multiple awards. It was heralded as funny. Probably a little raunchy. It sounded like a great date night pick.

Idiotically, I did not read any reviews. I wanted it to be a surprise.

And it was.

Just not in the way that I hoped it would be.

I naively thought the play would be about Mormon boys knocking door to door and the funny capers they would witness and be subject to at different people’s homes. That just made the most sense to me.

I was entirely wrong.

This play does not want to make sense.

It simply wants to break down censors.


I knew I was in trouble from the beginning. Everyone was laughing and whooping throughout the beautiful Pantages Theater. And I was sitting there stunned. Because, to me, it was incredibly offensive. I looked at my husband and he had the same disgusted look on his face.

It was unbelievable. I felt like I was on Candid Camera. Or as if I was in a tent where everyone had smoked the magic fungi and I had only managed to contract a fungus.

I found this play to be very degrading to a great many people. It is immature. It relies heavily on shock value. As an adult who never felt the need to make up pretend words for genitals for a dialect with my children, I could not find the humor. Add in some sentences strewn in concerning random maggots and frogs. And those were the extent of the “jokes.” If I were to describe this play, that is what I would say it is about. Sentences with genitalia shouted out streamed with a random object and the f-word.

I would say it wasn’t really about religion. Maybe a bit. A little background about me: I am not Mormon. When I first heard about Mormon boys (when I was a Junior in high school) going on a two year mission, I was incredibly excited. I thought they were going to go search out treasure. Or fight dragons. I was very disappointed when I learned what they would really be doing. Boys in white shirts are incredibly different than knights on white horses. However, as a mother, my heart is softened when I see these young men far from home. In their handsome starched button down shirts and ties. They tug at my heart strings. I might not believe in what they are doing, but I can emphasize with how homesick they must feel. And I always give them water or a snack when they come by. I do not let them in. Most of them just want to pet my dogs. They miss that little bit of home. I would want someone to treat my son the same way if he was in their shoes.

I also feel we should be respectful of everyone’s religion, no matter what we think of it. A little poke is fine. A giant shove is another thing entirely. With all of that said, I found the song with the chorus, “F*** You God!” extremely unnecessary.

And their betrayal of Africans… I just could not believe it. I could not believe they found actors willing to play the roles. They made Africans a sad caricature of a race. It was horribly degrading. The reason this play got a 2 from me out of 10, and not a 1, is simply because the female lead was incredibly talented. Her voice. Probably the best I had heard in any musical. It is a shame it was being wasted on f-bombs and frogs.

Other offenses were the jokes about raping babies and female circumscion. Maybe I took too many Ethics Classes in college (one topic that happened to be discussed over and over again was female circumcision), but I am ashamed that this play is so highly revered in America. What does that say about us?

I kept imagining I was in the middle of a split screen. On one side you have us Americans watching this play and rolling in our seats at the man pronouncing that he is going to go rape a baby to cure his AIDS. And then I imagined the other side of the screen being the mother that this actually happened to that very day. To her baby. And her watching us laughing at the play. And her grief increasing tenfold at the plight of the human race.

It made me furious.

According to statistics, in the time period that I sat and watched this play, 655 more people contracted HIV. I am sorry, but to me, that is not funny. Nor is the thought that people are so desperate to cure themselves they will resort to raping children. Even babies.

My husband and I both agree that this production should be giving back some of their proceeds to the plight in this world that they so easily and carelessly mock.

And even if the play was not offensive, the music was forgettable. The jokes were flat. The storyline dragged on and was unbearably boring.

There were children there! Children! You guys, one song had the entire African male cast each strap on a giant three foot… hose…On stage. And act out…acts. And use the f-word for the act. What the heck were those parents thinking?

However, the cast got a standing ovation. We stood… And we left. As I was leaving I overheard a young man say to someone else, “I love this play! I have seen it three times this week! I have the whole thing memorized.”

I just don’t get it.

Thank God.

I am in no way a prude. In my circle of friends I would be described as a good time. The one that almost always has to make a few phone calls on Sunday mornings to apologize for my behavior the night before. I also am not bothered by curse words. So, for me to find this play offensive, well, it should not be taken lightly.

But neither should AIDS.

Or rape.

Or the perils of the third world.

Now I’m off to go get some cream. This fungus is itchy. I would hate for it to spread.

Reading: “The Magician’s Elephant”


I love reading children’s books. There is something comforting and familiar about them. They almost never have a bad ending. They just make me happier. “The Magician’s Elephant” is no exception.

For the last two weeks, I have read a bit of this children’s book at night to my son. And to my husband (he says he likes to listen to me read). I realized recently that the last book I had read out loud to my son was when we read a Harry Potter book together almost two years ago. Two years! I could not believe it had been that long. I made a lazy conclusion in my head that insisted that if my children could read chapter books by themselves, they no longer needed me to read to them. And that is a shame. And a pity.

I started this children’s book by myself. But the writing was so marvelous, I had to share it. So, I began reading a bit to my son and husband every night. My daughter would have none of it. But she and I read the same teen fantasy books and discuss them, so I was okay with it. A little sad, but okay.

“The Magician’s Elephant” is the tale is a story about a magician who brings an elephant crashing down through the roof of an opera house and cripples a noble woman in the process. He did not mean to. He only wanted to provide her with lillies. But he also longed to do real magic.

In a different part of the city, little Peter has sought out a fortuneteller whose prediction to him was that he must follow an elephant to find the sister he believed to be dead.

And so it began. The intersecting lines of many lives all interwoven around and through and to the elephant.

The words in this book are gorgeous. It is only 201 pages long. Or two hundred and a half pages long, as my son would say.


The book is illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. The illustrations are a bit dark. But because Kate DiCamillo’s words are so descriptive and beautiful, I liked that the drawings were murky and dreamlike. The illustrations did not mess with the pictures that Ms. DiCamillo had all ready painted in my head.

I would be reading aloud and a sentence would catch me off-guard with its eloquent beauty. I would find my voice cracking and my vision blurred not by sadness but with the great emotion that her words brought forth.

Now this. This is a beautiful writer. And this. This is a beautiful book.

It is a book that will become a classic. I am sure of it.

The true magic in this book are in the sentences. She put words that I never thought to pull together and made them harmonize and sing. It was the music my soul did not know it longed to hear.

You cannot rush through this book, even though it is an easy read (actually there were surprisingly large words used for a children’s book). To rush through this book would be to miss the magic resting on each page.

My son turned to me when it was over moved beyond words. When I prodded him, he responded, “that was the best book I have ever read.”

I am glad he enjoyed it as much as I did.

I also have ordered “Flora and Ulysses.” It is a book also by Kate DiCamillo and I plan on beginning to read it to my whole family (my daughter is not getting out of a great book again) later in the week. I am making it a goal to read out loud to my children more. I had forgotten how enjoyable it was. Just because their ages are now in the double digits, doesn’t mean they are too old for it.


Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you have any other marvelous children’s books for me to read?