February 7, 2016

Book Review · Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore


TITLE: MR. PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE
AUTHOR: ROBIN SLOAN
NARRATOR: CLAY JANNON, FIRST PERSON
PUBLISHER: FARRAR, STRAUS, AND GIROUX, 2012
GENRE: FICTION, MYSTERY, BIBLIOPHILE
SOURCE: BARNES & NOBLE
REVIEW: 2 STARS OUT OF 5

"Your life must be an open city, with all sorts of ways to wonder in. After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. 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."

Prior to reading Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, I expected to have much more to say about it than I do now having actually read it. I first discovered this book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, nearly two years ago. It drew me in. For any bibliophile who sees a book with this title and description, sparked curiosity is only natural. I believe I was expecting a lot more from this book and perhaps it's because there's an untold bookshop story that lives inside of me that I have yet to find the the words for.

I can sum up this novel in a few oppositions: old versus young, traditional knowledge versus technological knowledge, paper versus pixels. You get the idea, but the story itself is complex. In the beginning we are introduced to Clay Jannon, a web designer, who finds employment at a strange local bookshop in San Francisco by the name of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. Once on the job, Jannon begins to notice the odd customers that enter the bookshop late at night. These odd folks are also the only customers who have access to certain books within the bookstore which are located in an area Jannon likes to call the "Waybacklist". He later learns that these books are written in code, neither him nor his friends are able to decipher its content. This is the mystery of the story. As the story progresses it is revealed that those odd customers, including the bookstore's owner Penumbra, belong to an ancient secret society going back five hundred years. The members of this secret society believe the secret to eternal life is found within the pages of these coded books left behind by their founder, Aldus Manutius. Jannon and his friends dive into the adventure of a lifetime. The objective: crack the code by any means necessary. Rule breaking and trouble is inevitable.

The story was interesting enough for me not to put it down and begin reading another book, but it fell short of my expectations. As a matter of fact the ending was a complete let down. As I've mentioned already, in the story we are told that the secret to eternal life would be revealed to us after the ancient code is decoded. There was even talk about previous members of the secret society rising from the dead. This is the source of my disappointment. I don't want to say more except that if you're going to write a fictional book about an ancient code that garners the secret to eternity, you shouldn't let the readers down in the end with a ridiculous disclosure once the code is decrypted. That's all. I'm not sure I can recommend this book. It just didn't live up to its premise. I can't recall the climax of the story either, in my opinion the vast majority of the story is in rising action with many conflicts. The falling action and resolution is weak. I wanted to love this book, but I couldn't.

CHARLENE ZALE

September 28, 2015

Mood Board · A Rainy Autumn Day

I have decided to begin creating mood boards. A mood board is defined as an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of texts, etc., intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept. This is a brand new creative outlet for me. I think gathering photographers can put a great deal into perspective: ideas, feelings, passions, goals. I look forward to creating more. My first one here reflects an ideal rainy day in autumn.

Reading old books and writing letters in a cabin near the woods while enjoying my liberty and tea. 


The photographs in the entry are not my own, the sources are below.
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CHARLENE ZALE

September 18, 2015

18 Brilliant Society6 iPhone Cases

The iPhone 6S is set to be released one week from today, but I plan to keep my iPhone 6 Plus for as long as possible. Regardless, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favorite iPhone cases from Society6. No, I do not own any of these cases and I do not plan to purchase every single one. I will buy one, two tops, but I have yet to decide which one(s). I adore these cases because they reflect my interests, personality, and artistic tastes. I've owned my iPhone 6 Plus for five months and the only case it's ever had is a clear one. It's time to spice things up.


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10 · 11 · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15 · 16 · 17 · 18

CHARLENE ZALE

August 24, 2015

Sometimes I Need to Get Away

Yesterday I took a trip to St. Petersburg to explore, eat, drink local coffee, and visit Haslam's Book Store Inc. It's one of my top favorite bookshops in the Tampa Bay Area. I ate at Pom Pom's Teahouse & Sandwicheria. Funny story: I used the restroom there and upon entering I realized that guests are encouraged to write on the chalkboard walls with the provided chalks. I was greeted with "Bernie Sanders 2016" behind the door, but don't worry, I fixed it. I erased it and wrote "Rand Paul 2016" in its place. Other then what's been mentioned, I roamed the Grand Central District and visited a few of its shops.

I am still learning how to use my new Panasonic LX100 which I've named him Darcy. My cat is great model and he has been helpful. I've also been practicing my bokeh technique during the night traffic whenever I'm seated in the passenger seat. I will master it eventually. What I really need to do is read and/or watch tutorials on how to use this camera.

The one thing I am looking forward to at the moment is autumn and I am ready for everything the season brings.










CHARLENE ZALE

July 24, 2015

Mandatory GMO Labeling is Anti-Liberty


Recently the U.S. House passed an act that would ban state laws that force food companies to label their products that contain genetically modified organisms. Good. I can't be the only who is baffled by the many small government advocates who are in support of mandatory GMO labeling in food products. So now we're suddenly in favor of government force? Here's the deal, while I personally believe that it would be wise for companies to provide such labels, especially since an increasing number of consumers demand it, I do not believe they should be forced into it by government.

We do have choices and we do have the right to not buy certain foods with our hard earned money if we feel they do not meet our health standards. It should be noted that there are websites dedicated to providing non-GMO brands to the public, such as livingnongmo.org which lists 30,000+ GMO-free products. Supply and demand, folks. I say we let the free markets take care of it. Yes, people are demanding for their food products to have labels. There voices are being heard. Why not just let companies decide on their own term if or when to provide such labels? Companies generally do what is best, not only for themselves, but also for the consumers if they wish to stay in business.

Perhaps many companies will be chased out of the market if they don't provide labeling via boycotts led by the health conscious. Then again, many may stay in business to supply the consumers who aren't worried about genetically modified foods. This is the beauty of the free market. Thousands of brands have already taken the liberty of labeling their products without government intervention and force. We really should stop transferring our power over to the government. Don't they have enough power already?

onetwo

CHARLENE ZALE